CLAREMONT — Gray, wintry skies hung over the city yesterday as American Legion Post 29 in Claremont held a full day of ceremonies to commemorate those who served the United States and its people through military service.
Forecasts of precipitous weather forced Post 29 to relocate their morning ceremony for the public from its traditional location at Broad Street Park to the Legion hall. More than 100 local veterans, their families and community members filled the hall to reflect and pay honor and gratitude to those who served.
In a short speech to the community, Post 29 Commander Maurice Ferland said that the best way to honor our veterans was to take an active part in maintaining freedom in America through teaching children about American principles and values, taking care of veterans and their families and participating in civics and elections.
“Without our veterans, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Ferland said in closing. “Without you, we wouldn’t be able to reach where we are tomorrow.”
The ceremony also included two speeches from students at Unity Elementary School. Rachel LeFrancois, grade eight, read her speech titled “In Honor of Major Gerry Kistner, U.S. Army,” in which she spoke about her stepfather, who is currently in active service, and the importance of military duty and sacrifice. Kaylee Howe, grade six, whose father is also in active serve, read her speech titled “The Wives Left Behind.”
Master of Ceremonies James England said that each year Post 29 teaches Unity students in basic flag etiquette and invites students to submit and read essays for their annual Veterans Day ceremony.
The ceremony included a prayer led by the Post 29 Chaplain George Lapan and fyfe and drum performance of The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Andy and Lois Buchan.
Following a luncheon at the Legion hall, Post 29 members went to the Sullivan County nursing home in Unity for another Post 29 tradition. Each year, the members replace the American flag that hangs outside the complex and presents the old flag to the oldest veteran in the residence.
“This is our greatest generation,” remarked Mike Richmond, representing legion’s N.H. District 6, as residents of the home made their way into the community room.
Afternoon snow began falling as the veterans went outside to replace the flag and fold the old banner for formal presentation.
Korean War veteran Arnold Lowrey, 90, received the flag from the veterans. In attendance were Lowrey’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law Harvey and Chris Hill.
“You were the guys who started this,” Ferland told the veterans at the residence. “Please know that, if any of you need anything, we will be of service.”
Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, a holiday to commemorate the truce between the Allies and Germany to end World War II. We celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11 because the treaty went into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, hence the phrase “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
In 1954, the United States changed the day to Veterans Day to honor all people who served. In the British Commonwealth it is called Remembrance Day.