Lakes Region honors those who gave all

Ceremony in Laconia focused on John L. Sanborn, who died in the Korean War at 18

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Together with their counterparts in cities and towns across the state and around the country, residents of Laconia yesterday remembered and revered the men and women who lost their lives in the service of our country with a parade along Main Street and ceremony at Veterans Square to mark Memorial Day.

Under a gray but dry sky, Ray Peavey Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, introduced the Laconia High School chorus, whose rendering of the national anthem was followed by the hymns of each of branch of the armed services — The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.

Hillary Seeger, vice commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1670 and a Blue Star Mother, recalled one young soldier returning from combat overseas, saying, "I saw things in my twenties that no one should see in their whole lives."

Seeger told of her daughter, who serves at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where she oversees the the flights of C-5 Galaxy aircraft ferrying military personnel to and from the "sandbox," of the theater of war in the Middle East. She said her daughter puts faces to the names on the manifests listing those who leave for the war zone and "it breaks her heart" to find the names missing from among those who return.

"I am so thankful my stars are blue and so very grateful to the mothers whose stars are gold," said Seeger, stifling her tears.

Blue Star Mothers is a group formed to provide support for those who had sons or daughters in active service in war, first organized during World War II. Gold Star Mothers was formed after World War I to support those who lost a son or daughter in the service of our country.

Speaking for all residents of the city, Mayor Ed Engler brought the significance and immediacy of Memorial Day to the city streets and present day. The mayor recalled the experience of John L. Sanborn, who was raised on Mechanic Street and would turn 84 next Sunday, but for the Korean War. At 17, Sanborn enlisted in the Army, and less than a month after his 18th birthday fighting broke out on the Korean peninsula. Engler suspected Private Sanborn, trained as a tank gunner, probably could not place Korea on a map, much less grasp the dynamics of the Cold War. Yet on Sept. 5, 1950, Sanborn died at Taegu fighting with the forces of the United Nations to defend South Korea. In 1973, the city dedicated a park on Mechanic Street in in honor of Private Sanborn, which the mayor said remains a jewel in Lakeport.

The mayor noted that altogether 551 citizens of Laconia fought in Korea, all of whom are remembered by name on a monument at Veterans Square. Including Sanborn, a dozen gave their lives, the other 11 Engler honored aloud — Arthur J. Bower Jr., James Hildreth, Floyd N. Alexander, Edward F. Ewens, Rudy H. Haferkamp, Albert A. McCarthy, Ralph C. Merrill, Jr., Richard E. Rivers, Erwin C. Young, Jr., George A. Curley Jr. and Richard J. Bolduc.

To mark the significance of Memorial Day, Engler drew on United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought in the Civil War, from which the day of remembrance originated. Speaking in Keene on what was then Decoration Day, Holmes said that the occasion should have meaning for those without personal experience and memory of the conflict.

"It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it," Holmes said, "to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return."

More directly, Peavey reminded everyone that Memorial Day is "not about picnics and auto races, but about remembering those who have paid the price."

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Ray Peavy,Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, left, and Bill North, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1670, led the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Boy Scouts from Troop 68 marched in the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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The Marching Sachems, outfitted from the rain that never fell, provided the martial music for the Memorial Day parade through downtown. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Mayor Ed Engler, flanked to the left by City Council Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) and to the right by City Councilors Bob Hamel and Henry Lipman (Ward 3), accompanied by his daughter Bessie, represented the city in the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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Mayor Ed Engler, speaking to a crowd gathered at Veterans Square on Memorial Day, recalled the service and sacrifice of Private John L. Sanborn of Lakeport, in whose name Sanborn Park on Mechanic Street is dedicated. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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Bill North, left, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1670, and Ray Peavy Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, place the wreath at Veterans Square honoring the Laconians who served and fell in country's wars during the past century. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Memorial Day started as way to honor those who died in Civil War

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Eddie Bird plays the echo of Taps during the Memorial Day service at Lang Cemetery in Meredith along the parade route from Main Street to Hesky Park Monday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Korean War veteran Master Sgt. Elliott Finn recounted the history of Memorial Day as he spoke in front of the town library during Monday's Memorial Day observance.
Noting that the day is set aside to honor ''the thousands of Americans who answered the last roll call," Finn said that formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to remember the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war, the most deadly in American history, which claimed over 600,000 lives.
He said the origin of the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in that war is traced by many historians back to the early days of that war in the southern states and it was established as a national observance by General Josh Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868.
Finn said that the first widely-publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865.
He quoted a Wikipedia article that reads ''During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Hampton Park Race Course in Charleston; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865 which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled 'Martyrs of the Race Course.' Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children, newly enrolled in freedmen's schools, as well as mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field. The site of the remembrance celebration would come to be called the 'First Decoration Day' in the North.''
Speaking at the same ceremony, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) thanked all the parents who had shown up and brought their children with them, saying that it is important for those children to know the meaning of Memorial Day and the sacrifices previous generations have made to preserve freedom.
She also praised the efforts of the former commander of the Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33, Bob Kennelly, for his role over the last decade in organizing the Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in Meredith.
The ceremony in front of the library was preceded by a parade, led by a color guard, which stepped off from American Legion Post #33 and feature and a caravan of vintage automobiles, trucks and the Meredith Fire Department's original fire engine, as well as the Inter-Lakes High School marching band.
Ceremonies then moved to Hesky Park, site of the state's original POW-MIA Memorial, where Robert Weeks, a local member of the Northeast POW-MIA Network, reminded those present of the plight of those families who do not know what happened to their loved ones who went of to war and never returned.
The memorial will be the site of the 23rd annual New Hampshire Freedom Ride sponsored by the Northeast POW-MIA Network on June 16 this year.
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Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, a Korean War veteran, spoke at the Memorial Day ceremony in Meredith on Monday. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Memorial Day in Gilford

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The raindrops stopped just in time for Memorial Day remembrances and parade Monday morning.

With color guards from both the police and fire departments, a wreath was laid by two members of the Girl Scouts at the World War I and II memorial in the center of Gilford Village.

The parade, which was highlight by Gilford High School marching band, the Girl and Boy Scouts and the huge American flag carried by a number of Gilford veterans.

The parade continued to the Pine Grove Cemetery where a second wreath was laid on the memorial marker by two members of the Boy Scouts.

Selectman Chairman Richard Grenier spoke about the history of Memorial Day, telling the group amassed at the cemetery that it began in the wake of the Civil War but was made a national holiday in after World Wars I and I and The Korean Conflict in 1967.

"We as a nation and as a people have always honored our fallen heroes," said Grenier. "A little bit of each of us was lost as part of that sacrifice."

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Gilford police honor guard, commanded by Master Patrol Officer Doug Wall, who is second from the left, prepare to lead the parade. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Veterans carry the stars and stripes in Gilford's Memorial Day Parade. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Local children wave their flags as the Memorial Day parade steps off from Gilford Village.

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Two Girl Scouts place a wreath on the World War I and II memorial in Gilford Village. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford Selectmen's Chairman Richard Grenier asks for people to remember our fallen veterans every day at Monday's Memorial Day ceremony. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)