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Veterans remembered in Ossipee during moving ceremony

BENJAMIN COCHRANE, fourth grader at Ossipee Central School read his essay, “What Veterans Day Means To Me” during the annual Veterans Day celebration held Nov. 11 at Ossipee Town Hall. Pictured with Cochrane are Commander Al Levesque and Chaplain Kathleen Maloney of Rodney A. White, Sr. VFW Post #8270. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
November 17, 2011
OSSIPEE— On the eleventh day at the eleventh hour in the eleventh month of every year, veterans gather on the lawn at Ossipee Town Hall to pay tribute to those who have served in the United States military. This year, it also happened to fall on the eleventh year.

Nov. 11, 2011 at 11 a.m. veterans once again gathered and this year were joined by a crowd of onlookers and three special young guests.

This year, students in grades four through six at Ossipee Central School submitted essays on the subject, "What Veterans Day Means to Me." The essay winners are fourth grader Benjamin Cochrane, fifth grader Adam Deveau, and sixth grader Salome Salgado. Each winning essayist received a $100 savings bond and read their essays at the ceremony.

"Veterans Day is a holiday when we thank the men and women that fought in the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Delta Force, Air Force, and the U.S. Army that are still alive. We thank them because they helped us be free. We also thank them because they have practiced hard to protect our country. We thank the nurses that helped heal the wounded. We also honor the people in the service even if they didn't even fight. Some people take a moment of silence to honor those who have died. People have traveled all around the world just to protect our country. These are the reasons we remember our veterans," read Cochrane.

"Veterans Day means to me a time we put something together for the veterans that fought for our country. It also means we send stuff to them that the veterans might need. Or we could write things that we thank the veterans for doing. It's a time we celebrate what they did for us and hope that they keep fighting. It's also a day we support the veterans and encourage them to not back down. I celebrate Veterans Day by writing letters to the veterans to tell them how thankful we are to them. I send the veterans food to them so they don't starve. My dad brings me to the graveyard to put flowers on the veteran's graves because my dad is in the Air Force. Sometimes we go to the library to read about them. I also watch movies about what they do to help us and how the veterans honor their comrades that had died," read Deveau.

"Veterans Day is a day to honor the people who risk their lives to save us and to give us freedom. Without their sacrifice, we would be in a worse place now. We would be in a bad place and things would be different. I wish somehow everyone could help. It makes me sad that people forget about Veterans Day and only celebrate Halloween instead. Without veterans we would not even have Halloween. It also makes me sad when I pass by millions of graves with little flags on them. Veterans Day is very important to me," read Salgado.

The annual event is coordinated by Rodney A. White, Sr. VFW Post 8270 and Auxiliary. In addition to the essay readings, there was a placing of a wreath at the veterans' memorial, a prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance. John May played "Taps," the Ossipee Police Department gave a rifle salute, and Post Commander Al Levesque spoke to remember Ken Ritchey of Effingham, a veteran, who recently passed away. But possibly the most poignant part of the ceremony was a speech given by Ossipee Citizen of the Year and Auxiliary Senior Vice Susan Simpson.

"On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the fighting of World War I ended in 1918. Due to the conclusion of "the War to end all Wars," November 11th became a universally recognized day of celebration. So, today we honor all of our veterans who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedom.

"As we celebrate our veterans on this Veterans Day, I feel honored to be standing up here in front of so many people who are interested in honoring our veterans.

"How wonderful it is to see the spirit of patriotism growing in our country. Once again, it popular to publicly express love for our great country.

"That patriotic sprit has spread to Americans of all ages. Children wear patriotic clothing. Teenagers put flag bumper stickers on their cars. College students hang flags in their dorm room windows. And adults fly flags or place Statue of Liberty lawn ornaments in front of their homes.

"Recent events have made us realize what we have as Americans and the freedom we enjoy. Today we recognize those who have protected and continue to protect our way of life.

"Originally called Armistice Day, this day was conceived as a tribute to the Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War I. Now we also honor all American veterans who have served in any way, before or after World War I, to defend democracy. We honor our veterans from every time of peace as well, for they protect what our war veterans fought and died to defend.

"We celebrate this day, we honor our veterans today, because we know that without them there would be no 'land of the free.'

"Without the veterans of the American Revolution, there would not even be a United States of America.

"Without the veterans of the Civil War, who fought on either side for what they believed in, the strong, united America we know today might never have been possible.

"Without World War II veterans, we might be living in a country, in a world, where freedom of choice or the right to vote no longer exists.

"And without those currently fighting the War on Terrorism, we would be living in constant fear or without freedom.

"All of our veterans have protected our democracy, our freedom, and our way of life. Today, we honor and thank them. And tomorrow we must continue to honor them. They have given us the chance to live in freedom today and an opportunity to look forward to tomorrow. They have given us every day and they have protected our freedom. We must honor them every day, in every way we can.

"The best way to honor our veterans is to take an active part in maintaining freedom in America. We must teach future generations about what it means to be an American. We must volunteer in our communities, take care of our veterans and their families, vote in elections, and continue to try to make America the very best it can be.

"Without our veterans, we wouldn't be where we are today. Without you, we won't be able to reach where we could be tomorrow. Through their blood, service, and sacrifice, veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on earth. We must remember them. We must appreciate them. God bless you all for being here. God bless our veterans and God bless our United States of America," said Simpson.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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