Monday, June 1, 2015

Memorial Day festivities and somber remembrances - By Michelle Libby

Memorial Day weekend was kicked off with a 5K and brunch on Saturday hosted by the Windham Veterans Association and ended with a speech by Governor Paul LePage on Monday to recognize Vietnam era Veterans. The ceremony on Monday was put on by the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148. 
As a part of the Memorial Day celebrations, the WCA also wrapped up its Toby’s Dream campaign with a huge event Saturday with a 5K race that had 125 runners, and a brunch put on by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148. In addition there was a silent auction and the raffle of a paddle board donated by the Kittery Trading Post and a sapphire ring donated by Windham Jewelers.   

The event raised over $8,000 and pushed the dream into reality. The total raised was $53,400, but even as Brenda Pennels announced the total, she was given two more donations. 

On Memorial Day, the community turned out for a parade from School Street to Windham High School. The parade featured service men and women from all branches of the service, local legislators, 4-H, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups. 

At Windham High School, the fallen military were honored in front of the monument recognizing all branches of service. Names of the Veterans who passed away this year were read by master of ceremonies Brenda Pennels as Willie Goodman, head of the VFW, rang the brass bell. Over 800 flags were deemed unserviceable and burned. There was also a 21-gun salute.

At noon, the community was invited to the Veterans Center for a cookout and open house to honor Vietnam Veterans on the 50th anniversary of the conflict. 

Lee Humiston, the owner and founder of the Maine Military Museum in South Portland, brought a collection of Vietnam era memorabilia to display at the Veterans Center. From helmets to uniforms, model airplanes to newspaper clipping all from the conflict, he said that the collection was very valuable.
“I brought stuff up from Vietnam to get a taste of remembrance from Vietnam” Humiston said. 

The museum is the only one of its kind and has rare artifacts from the Civil War like a 1775 cannonball and a Civil War medal of honor, up through items from Afghanistan and the Gulf War. The museum is all run on donations with no funding from outside organizations. 

Humiston spent 26 years in the military and supports the American Legion whenever he can. “They call, I come,” he said. 

The Legion post honored teacher Sabrina Nickerson as educator of the year. “I want to say a big thank you for all of you who support us. You are a national treasure, you and your families,” she said.
Doug Richards, manager of Hannaford, was also recognized for his support of the Legion. 

Dana Reed prayed over the gathering. “Once again, war painfully taught us the geography of a region with names like Da Nang, Hue, and the Mekong Delta, as a generation raised on rock and roll set aside electric guitars and drum kits to pick up and M16 carbine, fly and F-4 Phantom or to hear the distant approaching saving sound of a Huey.” 

Governor LePage gave a solemn speech. “We must honor those comrades. When you sign up for the military you write a blank check,” he said. “Many of you went to fight the war because you were asked to. When you came home, you were disrespected by the American people. It’s high time we thank you for the service to our country.”  

The following men were honored by the governor: Bill Petty, Carl Hartwell, Charles Hennessey, Charlie Tufts, Dale Meggison, Daniel Boothby, Dennis Marshal, Don Mckenna, Edward Emmons, Edward Robert Lee, Gary Row, Gary Tyron, George Bragg, George Gherardi, Gerald Dube, H. Scott Harrison, Henry Whynot, Herbert Broy, Howard Hanscome, John Hill, John Nason, Ken Murch, Malcolm Lyons, Malcolm Dixen, Marsha Morgan, Martain Traiser, Melvin Greenier, Mitch Kosoff, Peter Hutchinson, Ralph Rao, Richard Sakker, Richard Traiser, Robert Charest, Robert Akins, Rodney Voisine, Roger Timmons, Timothy Politis, Victor Salemme, Wayne Carter and Stanley Burke.

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