Veterans lauded at annual JMG breakfast event in Hodgdon
HODGDON, Maine — Veterans of all ages streamed into the Hodgdon High School gymnasium Friday morning to enjoy a free meal and camaraderie as part of the 17th annual Veterans Day Breakfast event.
Nearly 200 veterans and their families, along with many law enforcement officials participated this year.
“This is amazing,” said Houlton’s Dan Deprez. “Things have changed a lot for veterans. I served during the Vietnam era and veterans were not always highly regarded back then. To have something like this happen, and to take place for the past 17 years, is just incredible. It means an awful lot to all of us (veterans).”
Houlton resident Clifford Barker, who served in the U.S. Army from 1963-65 and graduated from Hodgdon High School in 1959, added, “These guys do a wonderful job. It sure is nice to see our veterans appreciated.”
Jon Doyle, an Augusta attorney, served as the guest speaker for Friday’s event.
“I love coming to The County,” Doyle said. “It truly is a special place. When I come up from Augusta, I get an overdose of reality. Augusta, sometimes, because of its political atmosphere, is not real.”
Doyle said he was in awe of how a small community like Hodgdon could put on such a wonderful event for local veterans and stated more should be done to honor the veterans’ accomplishments and sacrifices.
Monica Hewitt, representing U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s office, read a letter from the congressman and presented the school with a flag that had flown over the Capitol.
Hodgdon students in the JMG program served guests with their morning meal.
“It gives me the utmost pleasure to give back in any way to those who have served our country,” said Hodgdon High School student Katherine Berube, the community service organizer for JMG. “It is a great honor to be able to provide a ceremony that recognizes such extraordinary men and women. From the bottom of my heart flows the deepest gratitude. Thank you veterans for your service.”
Five service flags were donated to the school for use in the JMG program. A U.S. Navy flag was donated by Principal Mary Harbison in honor of Aldo, Robert and Atillio Carbone, who all served in the Navy during WWII.
Guidance Director Bernadette Willette donated a U.S. Army flag, dedicated to Chester Willette, who served in WWII. A U.S. Marines flag was donated by Regina McCombs and dedicated to William Sullivan, a WWII veteran who landed on Iwo Jima.
A U.S. Coast Guard flag was dedicated to John Joseph Jr. and a U.S. Air Force flag was dedicated to Gary Carr, who served in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. Both flags were donated by Bernard Reece, Hodgdon’s first JMG specialist.
Students from Hodgdon Middle/High School decorated the gymnasium in red, white and blue, while elementary students drew pictures thanking the veterans for their service. Members of the Mill Pond fifth- and sixth-grade chorus and Hodgdon High School chorus, under the direction of Sharyn Walker; and the Middle/High School band, under the direction of Scott Walker, performed patriotic musical selections to entertain the veterans.