Dozens brave cold wind to mark Veterans Day centennial at northern Maine cemetery

6 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Veterans and residents alike braved the cold and came out to the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Caribou on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to commemorate the Veterans Day centennial.

Guests clapped their frozen hands for keynote speaker Sue Bernard, assistant to the president at Northern Maine Community College; guest speaker Harry Hafford, chairman of the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery Board; and Trisha House, Barbara Hayslett, and Kim Rohn, who respectively gave speeches on behalf of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

The Legion Riders from American Legion Post 147 in Madawaska deliver a 21 gun salute during a 2018 Veterans Day ceremony at the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Caribou.
Chris Bouchard|Aroostook Republican

Following an invocation by Chaplain Lloyd Woods, Wendell Hudson gave an acapella performance of the National Anthem, and then picked up an acoustic guitar and played “Amazing Graze,” near the conclusion of the ceremony. Members of the Loring Job Corps student honor guard posted their colors and the Madawaska American Legion Post 147 Riders gave a 21 gun salute during the roughly half hour ceremony.

Bernard immediately acknowledged the rough wind and cold weather during her keynote, adding that she liked “the sounds of flags flapping in the wind. It’s the sound of freedom.”

She continued by saying that the best gift she could bestow on those attending in the freezing weather was to “keep this mercifully brief.”

Bernard began by saying she wasn’t sure why she was deserving of being the event’s keynote, except in respect to her “dear father,” a World War II veteran who now rests at the Lombard Road cemetery in Caribou.

Sue Bernard, assistant to the president at the Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, delivers a keynote address at Caribou’s Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery on Veterans Day.
Chris Bouchard|Aroostook Republican

“He rarely talked about his Army days,” she said, “or the days that led him to the Battle of the Bulge.”

Despite this, Bernard said she and her siblings learned a great deal about the sacrifice made by all veterans who serve their country.

“They offer their service to the point of offering their lives to preserve our freedoms and our way of life,” she said. “That’s what veterans do. You stood up. You got in line. You took orders, and performed your duty in unfamiliar and often very difficult and dangerous circumstances.”
She also brought attention to the families of veterans tasked with distant assignments, and how they stand strong during those times of separation, take on huge responsibilities, and are “never wavering in their love and support.”

The keynote address concluded with Bernard thanking Hafford, who announced that he would be resigning following NMVC’s quarterly meeting on Dec. 7.

“I am very grateful to Harry Hafford, and the entire Veterans Cemetery Corporation for making sure deceased veterans are not forgotten,” she said, “and for organizing thoughtful ceremonies for the heroes still among us.”

Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery Board Chairman Harry Hafford delivers opening remarks at the podium during the facility’s 16th annual Veteran’s Day ceremony on Nov. 11 of 2018.
Chris Bouchard|Aroostook Republican

Hafford, during his introductory remarks, said it took him months to finally decide it was time to resign.

“After nearly 20 years of serving on this committee,” he said, “I feel it is time for me to move aside. It has been one of the greatest pleasures and passions of my life and I hope I’ve fulfilled my mission to beautify the cemetery in Caribou and helped to make it a fitting final resting place for our veterans and their families.”

He said he was proud to be standing at the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery, and that none of the facility’s progress would be possible without the help of other committee members, generous local businesses, and community members who have “opened their hearts and wallets to this veterans cemetery second to none.”

He again thanked everyone for attending on such a frigid day before Master of Ceremonies Linda McGlinn introduced the remaining guest speakers.

“This has been an exceptional experience for me,” he said, “one I will treasure my whole life. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I want to humbly salute you all. Thank you for joining us today, enjoy the rest of the program, and have a great Veterans Day.”