HOULTON, Maine — Uncharacteristically warm weather served as the setting for the community of Houlton’s annual Veterans Day service.
A smaller-than-usual group of approximately 50 people came out to Monument Park Friday morning to pay their respects at the Chester L. Briggs American Legion Post No. 47’s annual Veterans Day service.
Unlike some years, where a fresh layer of snow has fallen, Friday’s ceremony featured warmer temperatures in the low 60s.
Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was made a public holiday to commemorate the end of World War I. In 1954, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day to remember military veterans who served in all major conflicts.
Chris Johanson, commander of Legion Post No. 47, welcomed those in attendance and reminded everyone of the purpose for the day’s ceremony — to remember those who have served and to offer support to those in need.
“In times of peace we can use the nobling virtues of war to put behind the ugliness and suffering that comes with it,” Johanson said. “There are a lot of people that can’t put that ugliness away. They came home with their demons and are living with them everyday. They are here in this community.”
He encouraged those in the community to keep a watchful eye on the area’s many veterans and to offer assistance to those who need it.
“Help is here,” he said. “We just have to get them to it.”
Charles Clark, first officer for the Legion, spoke on the importance of heroism for veterans and how that feeling can be applied to everyday life.
“Let us strive to see the same spirit of self-sacrifice that is cultivated in peace as has been exhibited in war,” he said. “It behooves us to bear a new standard of success to inspire youths in peace as youths have been inspired in times of war.”
Chaplain Jack Mitchell offered prayers for the ceremony and also sang “The Star Spangled Banner” during the service.
“Grant us the courage to live with the family of nations around the world that the end of strife will be the beginning of enduring peace,” Mitchell said. “Grant us patience and planning with our fellow men and women in a world in which nations may resolve their differences in peaceful means.”
Tammy Britton, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, shared her hopes for what the future may look like.
“Though the rules of the battlefield may not have been our experience, we have lived with the terrifying loneliness,” Britton said. “Our hearts beat in tune with those other nations fighting for freedom. In our constant quest for a humble world peace there is a need for unity of purpose if we are to truly move forward for a brighter tomorrow.”
The Legion Honor Guard concluded the ceremony with a gun salute, followed by the playing of taps by Jerry Riley.