Veterans Day remembrances

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer

On every Veterans Day, Paul Hoyt of Bridgton has a list of calls he makes.

“Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for serving,” he tells fellow family members and friends who served this country.

Dressed in his Navy uniform, Hoyt joined about 40 other veterans and local residents in Veterans’ Park on Depot Street last Thursday to pay tribute.

Bridgton Selectman Robert “Woody” Woodward opened the Veterans Day Service, recounting how his father fought on the beaches of Normandy.

“I didn’t know much about the Armed Services because he died when I was 9 (years old). So, when I got older and I was interested in exactly what his career involved, my mother said, ‘I am not really sure.’ He didn’t talk about it very much,” Woodward said.

To learn more about his dad, Woodward talked to some of his friends, who also served. He was told, “We did a lot of different things. Saw a lot of things we don’t want to remember. Made some great friends we’ll never forget. And, he didn’t want to talk too much about it ever.”

Woodward said one reason he was there to speak on Veterans Day is to thank veterans for their sacrifices in the name of freedom.

“Many people think of Veterans Day as a day to honor those who have passed. It is not just for those veterans. This time is for those veterans who are alive, and are here today. This is a celebration of people who have given their time, risked their lives and given their lives to insure freedom,” Woodward said.

Newly-elected State Representative and veteran G. Paul Waterhouse said, “My wife and I always look forward to coming to this event every year. In the past, I was jealous of the veterans — who had hats and other clothing with their military insignias on them — that came. Finally, last year, I got mine with my ship and hull number on it. I always notice people who have military insignias on them and make it a point to start up a conversation with them, even though they may be from a different branch of service. There is always that bond that exists between fellow veterans.”

On one side of the Civil War Monument located at the top of Main Hill, an inscription reads, “In honor of the living — in grateful memory of the dead.”

“That describes Veterans Day for me,” Waterhouse said. “We are gathered here today in ‘grateful memory of the dead and to honor the living’ — those veterans still on active duty and those who have served.”

Waterhouse closed by reading a poem, “They Did Their Share,” by Joanna Fuchs:

…These soldiers gave up normal lives,

For duties mundane and gory.

Let every veteran be honored;

Don’t let politics get in the way.

Without them, freedom would have died;

What they did, we can’t repay.

We owe so much to them,

Who kept us safe from terror,

So when we see a uniform,

Let’s say ‘thank you’ to every wearer.

Veteran and Commander of American Legion Post 67 Dennis Moynihan reminded the audience how men and women put aside their “civilian pursuits” to serve “their nation’s cause… and against the forces of evil.”

“Out of blood and sweat, we learned a purpose, sacrifice, tolerance, bravery and discipline. These are solid foundation stones from which a great nation is built. It is in our continual quest for a world peace that we must cultivate these virtues,” he said.

The service included: an Invocation and Benediction by Rev. Philip Reynard; the singing of patriotic songs by Ruth Glantz; Steve Wentworth offered a Veterans Day prayer, written by Virginia “Jinks” Staples of Bridgton, a “sparkplug” behind the Bridgton Veterans Day Service; and Dale Honaberger played Taps.

Following the service, a free dinner for veterans and their families was held at the Bridgton Masonic Hall.

Words from Washington

Here’s are some Veterans Day comments from state political leaders:

U.S. Senator Susan Collins: “Veterans Day was established to commemorate that precise moment — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 — when the guns of the First World War fell silent, and to remember the 116,000 Americans who died.

“This day is dedicated to Americans who have answered freedom’s call throughout our nation’s history. Some who answered that call did not return home. Some did return but have since passed on. Some remain missing but will never be forgotten. We express our gratitude to them in our hearts.

“Some live in honor among us; nearly 24 million across America, with more than 136,000 right here in Maine. Whether they served in recent years or in generations past, we express our gratitude to them in our words and through our actions. We express our gratitude by ensuring that our veterans receive the support — the quality health care, and the educational and employment opportunities — they earned through their service.

“As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I am honored to be an advocate for our veterans. This Veterans Day, let us remember those who have sacrificed so much and honor their service through words and actions that proclaim our gratitude.”

U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe: “We owe each and every one of our nation’s fallen soldiers an eternal debt of gratitude that we cannot repay, but that must never be forgotten. We are also mindful of the thousands of noble servicemen and women deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world, and I have seen firsthand their unwavering dedication to duty and consummate professionalism. They are the greatest reason that our armed forces are second to none! When our finest and bravest return from these theaters, our nation’s obligation to them as veterans is only beginning.

“This day serves as an important reminder that America must honor the promises we have made to the veterans who have valiantly served our nation, like ensuring access to world-class healthcare and guaranteeing that our veterans’ facilities receive the funding and resources necessary to provide that care.

“The National Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. includes the inscription: ‘freedom is not free.’ America’s veterans best understand the meaning of this phrase and exemplify its essential truth. Those veterans who have fought under the Stars and Stripes to protect and preserve the cherished principles that have made our nation the greatest on earth deserve our thanks — we could not be more proud of them, or more thankful for all they have given our country.

“And so, on this and every Veterans Day, we owe those who have placed service above self and country our boundless gratitude, not only on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, but on every day of every month of every year.”

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