Honoring the fallen

12 years ago

Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Memorial-dc1-pt-22AT ATTENTION — Saluting the memorial marker at Soldier Hill in Houlton Monday are, from left, Josephine McGuire, the Gold Star mother; Maxine Morris, American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, and Paul Graham, president of the United Vets.

Houlton holds services
By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — A solemn service was held in the Shiretown Monday to commemorate Memorial Day.
    Starting at Soldier Hill, a small group gathered for a brief service and placement of wreaths and flowers at the American Legion memorial marker.
    “Comrades, this is a day sacred for the invisible presence of those who have gone before us,” said Jim Dunlop, commander of American Legion Post No. 47 in Houlton. “We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in service to our country and those others who have dropped their burdens by the wayside of life and gone to their eternal rest. May the ceremonies of today deepen your reverence for our departed friends. Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag.”
    Chaplain Peter Roach offered the prayer before giving way to a gun salute by the honor guard and playing of Taps by Houlton’s Jerry Riley.
    Following a brief parade through Market Square, which included a stop at the Meduxnekeag River Bridge for the tossing of a ceremonial wreath, a larger gathering met at Monument Park where the Houlton High School band performed and additional wreaths were placed on war memorials.
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Joseph Cyr
NE-CLR-Memorial-dc6-pt-22WREATH — Almon Hemore of Houlton places a wreath at the war memorial in Monument Park in Houlton Monday during the Memorial Day celebration.

    During that portion of the ceremony,
    “Again our nation has assembled to honor our heroic dead,” Dunlop said. “Thousands of battles of land, sea and air echo the glory of their valiant deeds. Under the quiet sob or beneath the murmuring waves, their bodies sleep in peace.”

Oakfield remembers
By Gloria Austin
Staff Writer

    It was a celebratory day as Oakfield residents and visitors remembered loved ones who have passed, but especially those who paid the debt in full … Americans who heard the call and gave their lives for freedom’s sake.
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Gloria Austin
NE-CLR-vets-dc-pt-22CELEBRATED — During the Oakfield Memorial Day parade, veterans were celebrated. Waving to those along the parade route are, from left, front, Francis Cyr; middle, Dickie Burton and Mike Forest and back, Kerry Bartlett.

    A ceremony held in Oakfield’s cemetery drew a small crowd, as American Legion Post 52 honored those war heroes with a gun salute, followed by the playing of Taps— which echoed through the air — by Southern Aroostook students Hunter Lawlor, Morgan Gustin, Austin Bishop, Will McGary and Wesley Raymond, led by band instructor Kermit McGary. Then former Rep. Henry Joy laid a remembrance wreath at the memorial before Peter Maine offered a prayer in closing.
    The town of Oakfield was filled with a festive spirit as they awaited the start of the annual Memorial Day parade. Food sales were held at the gazebo and next to the Universalist Church. The church was open to the public to view its historical exhibits, as well.
    After the parade rolled through, the American Legion held a brief ceremony adjacent to the downtown bridge.
    Marty Dickinson opened with the account of Memorial Day and its significance before introducing guest speaker Joy, who represented the town for many years in the Maine House of Representatives.
    “All across the country, people are gathered to extend our prayers and gratitude to those Americans who have given their lives in service to our country,” he said. “We can never repay them for making the supreme sacrifice, but we can remember and salute them for keeping our nation the land of the free.”
    Joy noted that in recent years there has been a “shift in our thinking” about Memorial Day.
    “There’s a new awareness of the sacrifices our military men and women are making,” he said. “Part of that shift comes from the shared experience of seeing today’s young men and women fighting in miserable conditions.”
    Regardless of why the shift has occurred, Joy said, “Something has changed about the way Americans now think about those valiant souls who put their lives on the line for us.”
    After quoting President Kennedy, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors and the men it remembers,” Joy added, “Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in this world.”
    After explaining Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts while near the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Joy told of the casualties of the war and noted President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day.
    “Since that time, America’s sons and daughters have been called upon time and again to defend our freedom and our way of life,” said Joy.
    War serves as a “sobering reminder that the cost of liberty was not paid in full by our forefathers,” Joy said. “The debt remains with us even today and the costs are heavy.”
Houlton Pioneer Times Photo/Gloria Austin
wreathTHROWING — Veteran Merle Burpee tossed a bouquet of flowers into the water in remembrance of sailors who gave their lives.

    Joy also recognized a generation  — World War II veterans — which is fading.
    “It is important that we show our appreciation of their collective sacrifices,” he said. “Without their strong dedication and perseverance, the cause of freedom, decency and sanity in the world would not have prevailed. We owe them an enormous debt.”
    Joy then posed two thought-provoking questions.
    “Gathering together on this day is one way to show our appreciation and gratitude,” he said. “But, how do we extend that reverence we feel through the other days of the year? And more importantly, how do we instill and deepen the tradition of this special day to the younger generation .. . whether at war or not?”
     He answered, “We must teach others about sacrifices that have been made on our behalf … we must help future generations understand the act of committing oneself to our country and being willing to fight for the freedom of others, which is among the most noble of endeavors.”
    In closing, Joy read the following poem written by Bobbi Diller of Mt. Chase.

History lifted right
from the page
Real life lived with
a world in rage
Love and hate went
hand in hand
They circled the globe like a tight rubberband;
Men gone from home
 to duty to do
They did so with pride for me and for you
They wished not to be there,
but knew they must be
To keep our corner of this big world free;
Sacrifices all. Oft’n relationships severed
When it was over, would it all fit back together?
How deep human frailty; how strong human will
For freedom to prevail; some must pay the bill.