Gov. John Lynch shook hands with Resident Council President David Clark of the New Hampshire Veterans Home after Clark read the gubernatorial proclamation for the 93rd celebration of Veterans Day at a special tribute on Monday. Looking on is NHVH Commandant Barry Conway. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 16, 2011TILTON — The hall at New Hampshire Veterans Home was filled to capacity on Monday as residents, friends, family, and dignitaries came to pay tribute to the men and women who served the nation in all capacities of the armed forces during the first and second world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and many more conflicts or calls to duty around the world.
Commandant Barry Conway welcomed everyone to the state residential facility, and thanked them for coming on Nov. 14, three days after the national holiday.
"We're the last in the state to celebrate, but instead of competing with all the other parades and ceremonies on Friday, we thought we'd try this out and hold it on the closest Monday to Veterans Day," Conway said.
It indeed worked well, as it allowed not only Gov. John Lynch to attend the ceremonies this year, but also Congressman Charlie Bass. Both expressed their pleasure in being in the presence of so many veterans and thanked them in many ways.
Lynch, in his address, told the crowd he loved the Veterans Home, and visiting the men and women who reside there has been one of the highlights of his tenure as governor. He said he loved hearing them speak about their days in service, their courage and bravery in all they did to protect the United States. Primarily, he said, he was present on Monday to formally thank them for all they have done and sacrificed in their lives.
"The world, the country would be a different place without all you did. Just as you served us, we're here to serve you now in any way we can," Lynch said.
Bass said he had just returned from a trip overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan, so visiting NHVH was the only Veterans Day ceremony he was able to attend. He reported that servicemen and women overseas were doing well, and he was proud of their spirits and abilities as they work to end the War on Terrorism. They were all doing their duty, "just as you all have," Bass said. He, too, gave his heartfelt thanks for all soldiers do to preserve the freedoms Americans are used to experiencing in their daily lives.
Messages of appreciation from U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, as well as Congressman Frank Giunta, were read by representatives of their staffs before Winnisquam Regional Agricultural Center's FFA president, Alex Heimlich, and vice president Tyler Davis followed with their own thoughts on the day.
Heimlich said teenagers today get caught up in all they do and all they have and don't always stop to realize who gave them those freedoms.
"Today I'm here to say thank you," she said.
Davis was honored to stand before a room full of veterans and, with family members serving today, he said he could personally appreciate the sacrifices they all have made.
"I'm also proud of them (my family members) and what they've accomplished," Davis said.
Presenting the Veterans Day Address was Master Sgt. Jeffrey Heik of the U.S. Air Force. Heik is currently stationed at Pease Air Force Base, where he serves as the 1st Sergeant of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron. He took the time to thank the residents of New Hampshire for their exemplary support of veterans and active duty troops.
Heik said nearly every day he sees the patriotism of New Hampshire citizens who stop him on the streets to express their gratitude and have even anonymously paid his tab in local restaurants. Having come from the Midwest and served all across America, he said he wished the pride and respect for soldiers shown in this state would spread.
"We're riding a wave of support right now but New Hampshire puts other states to shame. Thank you for that," Heik said. "And to all the veterans out there I just want to say thank you and give you a round of applause."
Concluding the ceremony was Army veteran David Clark who heads the Resident Council at NHVH. Clark was asked to read the Veterans Day Proclamation from Gov. Lynch. With Lynch present for this year's tribute, Clark laughed and said he told the governor he was reading it anyway. The governor graciously stood by Clark's side as the veteran read his declaration, which officially proclaimed Nov. 11 as the 93rd anniversary of Veterans Day. Veterans, as well as their families, the Department of Veterans Affairs, NHVH and the caretakers of the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery were also acknowledged for their work in supporting and honoring all veterans.