Saturday, November 15, 2014

Veteran's Day honors those who serve and all Veterans - By Michelle Libby

On Tuesday at 11 a.m., Veterans from the area, state legislature members, town officials and community members gathered at the Windham Veteran’s Center to honor those who currently serve and those who have served. The event, sponsored by the VFW Post 10643, was attended by more than 200 people.
“Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title ‘Veteran’,” according to the VFW Post.  

After the presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 805, the Windham Chamber Singers sang the National Anthem. Master of ceremonies Willie Goodman recognized the many Veterans in the audience.
VFW chaplain Roger Timmons gave the invocation. The keynote speaker was Chief Master Sergeant John Herrick who spoke about his experience with civilian soldiers in the Air National Guard. He himself started his career in the Air Force in 1986. In our state 12 percent of citizens are Veterans, which is above the National average, Herrick said. “We should stand proud. Our state’s citizens are and have done their part.” 

Herrick concluded his speech with a quote from Joshua Chamberlain. “The power of noble deeds is to be preserved and passed on to the future.” That was what Veteran’s Day is all about. 

Each year the Veterans of Foreign Wars hosts a writing contest that gives students to write about topics having to do with patriotism and Americanism. The winners all earned cash prizes. 

Winners of the Patriot’s Pen wrote about “Why Veterans are important to our Nation’s history and future”. The winners are Alexander Momet, Alyvia Earle, Owen Flibbert and Harrison Boyle. Gardner Reed won the Voice of Democracy with his speech about the theme “Why I appreciate Americas Veterans. Each recipient read his or her entry out loud. 

Post teacher of the year was awarded to Patricia Gordan from Raymond Elementary School. 

After a final prayer, the audience retired to the Memorial Garden to dedicate a granite bench to Retired Colonel Stuart “Toby” Pennels and to recognize Veteran Fred Scott. The shining sun set the content and happy moods that surrounded the event. Boy Scout Dean Preston to conclude the event by playing Taps on the bugle. The American Legion Auxiliary provided refreshments.    

World War II Veteran visits his memorial as part of Honor Flight of Maine - By Michelle Libby

World War II Veteran and Raymond resident Pat Lawler, had an amazing experience recently when he was chosen to travel to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial. 
“It was the nicest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Lawler said. The all-expenses paid trip was sponsored by Honor Flight of Maine, which is available for any WWII, Korean or Vietnam Veterans. “I never spent 10 cents on anything,” Lawler said. 

Lawler, 88, was stationed on the USS Intrepid on the flight deck servicing airplanes for the Navy. He also worked for the fire department, called “damage control”. The Intrepid was the most hit ship in the fleet with seven suicide dives, he said. 

Lawler’s wife, Joan, traveled with him as a companion. She paid only $400 for her trip and it was considered a gift for the Honor Flight Network. 

Honor Flight Maine was started by Earl Morse to give Veterans a chance to visit their memorials. 

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 600 WWII Veterans died every day. Our time to express our thanks to these most senior heroes is rapidly running out.

Your help is urgently needed to make their last hopes and dreams of finally visiting their memorial a reality.”
Once the Honor Flight reached Baltimore, the fire department extended ladders over the plane to welcome them as they taxied to the gate. Then the veterans were treated to a motorcycle escort from the airport to the hotel, which Lawler described as “gorgeous.”

“It was a wonderful, wonderful thing,” he said. “They took us to all the war memorials and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” Lawler said his favorite part of the trip was seeing the World War II Memorial because he was in that war. “Arlington is shockingly beautiful,” he added. 

Lawler said he had been to Washington before the WWII Memorial was built, but said that experiencing and traveling with a group of Vets made a lot of difference. 

There were wheelchairs available for all Veterans whether they needed it or not and there were attendants watching out for them all of the time, Lawler said. “There were men with no legs and all kinds of situations – they were right there for them,” he said.    

When the plane landed in Portland, the fire department was there to guide them to the terminal and before they exited the plane, there was a mail call and the 50 or so soldiers on the plane were given a pre-arranged packet of letters from their family and friends. “I had tears coming down my face,” Lawler said. 

The Honor Flight Network sponsored a total of 18,000 veterans for similar trips to Washington D.C. last year. For more information or to register a Veteran for a trip, visit

Manchester students honor WW I Veterans - By Michelle Libby

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I, Sabrina Nickerson’s fifth grade class made and put 96 red poppies in the ground at Manchester School to represent the Veterans from Windham who served in the Great War. 

“My class has been reading about what is was like to live during the time of WWI and what it must have been like for the soldiers who fought in the trenches in the “War to End All Wars.”  We have read  and recited the poem “In Flanders’ Fields” Readers Theatre as well as two other books on the actual experiences of the author of the poem, John McCrae, and why and how he came to wrote this poem,” said Nickerson.  

Pam Whynot, a former kindergarten teacher, was asked to volunteer with the poppy project, along with Foster Grammie Polly Dyer, because Whynot’s granddaughter Grace is in Nickerson’s fifth grade class. After the students cut and assembled the poppies, Whynot wrote one name on each of the 96 poppies for in remembrance of a Windham World War I Veteran. 

At a ceremony held on Monday, the students stood in a line and took turns reading the name of a veteran and sticking the poppies in the ground in front of Manchester School. 

“What an impressive ceremony,” Whynot said. 

The class had studied the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, and read it out loud, a different group of students reading each paragraph. 

They concluded the ceremony by singing “God Bless America”. Whynot gave each student a small poppy of their own to take home. She also donated money to the American Legion Auxiliary, of which she is the president, in honor of the class. 

“It was awesome, so moving,” Whynot said. “The kids were so engaged with their poppies.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Raymond teen sings her way to Nationals - By Michelle Libby

Suzanna Butterfield recently spent a week in Nashville, Tenn. at the 2014 All National Honor Ensemble sponsored by the National Association for Music Education concert, where she sang at the Grand Ole Opry with 350 of the country’s best vocalists. 
Suzanna, a sophomore at North Yarmouth Academy (NYA), takes as many music classes as she can. “I spend all day at the music building,” she said. She participates in varsity singers an a capella group, Treble, an all-girls group, mixed chorus and wind ensemble (band). After school she practices to get ready for upcoming shows. 

For Nationals she had to memorize all six of her songs including a 25-page song. Each song had special notes from the director that she had to incorporate into the song she was learning with her voice coach.
“It was grueling what they put her through,” said Kathleen Butterfield, Suzanna’s mom. 

Suzanna moved to Maine seven years ago with her mother to be closer to family, and for the education system that was lacking on Anguilla, a small island near St. Martin in the Caribbean. 

Here Suzanna has taken advantage of every opportunity playing softball on a travel team, basketball and volleyball. She took dance until this past year, when she had to give up something. In sixth grade at Jordan-Small Middle School Suzanna was in the school play. She takes voice lessons from Raymond voice coach Charlotte Neuberger, for which she pays for with her own money in Raymond. Neuberger was actually a guest at the Butterfield’s inn on Anguilla before they moved to Maine.  
Suzanna also plays the clarinet and qualified for districts all through middle school. 

“She’s always been singing since she came out of the womb,” said Kathleen. 

Getting to Nationals wasn’t an easy task. Suzanna tried out for the district chorus first. After making that she tried out for All State, which was “a big deal,” according to Kathleen. Suzanna had to prepare one vocal piece and sight read music during her tryout. She spent three days at the University of Maine at Orono before the performance. 

The choral director at NYA, Nora Kranis, said that since she had made all state, she was able to try out for Nationals. Suzanna used the same audition piece she used for states. 

When the word was out about who had made Nationals, Suzanna heard nothing. Her friend said congratulations on Nationals, but Suzanna thought she was talking about softball. 
“For a day and a half, we weren’t sure. All my friends were so supportive,” she said. 

“She was one of the youngest there. It was mostly seniors and juniors,” said Kathleen. There were six other singers from Maine in Nashville. “There were 50 second sopranos. The logistics of doing what they did was mindboggling,” Kathleen, who traveled with Suzanna, said. 

They two went down to Nashville a day and a half early, so they would have time to sight see. 

“We were practicing 10 hours a day,” said Suzanna. “I learned so much, all really technical things, breathing, support and how to sing the values. I learned about the way they carried themselves,” she said of the older singers. 

Her favorite part of the trip was singing with people who were amazing singers, she said. “I love to be able to sing with people who are better than me.”

As far as her musical future, she’s not sure which path she’d like to take. 

“I also learned that I really, really love to sing. I definitely want music to be in my life.” Since she’s only 15, she hasn’t had to make definite career plans. 

Suzanna was impressed with the dedication that the singers had to their craft. She said she doesn’t always encounter that in some of her groups. “There was no judging.” 

When Suzanna arrived at the Grand Ole Opry, she entered the theater through the artist’s entrance. “I thought of all the people who have sung here and thought, I’m going to be a part of this,” she said.  

When asked if she’d try out again, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was an amazing experience.”
When at home in Raymond, Suzanna enjoys ice skating, skiing and snow tubing. She also visits her “Mema and Grampa” every weekend, who are very supportive of her music. 

Suzanna brought back from Nashville a desire to go to Nationals again next year and a pair of brown fringed cowgirl boots.