Despite the cancellation of the parade and ceremony at Windham High School, ceremonies, both solemn and uplifting, were put on by members of Windham Veterans Center and special guests, who paid tribute to the men and women of the five military services who have served the country.
In opening remarks on Memorial Day, former state senator Gary Plummer discussed conflicts throughout American’s history, quoting Maine’s Joshua Chamberlain in words spoken 150 years ago, “We have come here, friends, not for things that die, but for things that cannot die.”
The Field-Allen Post 148 recognized Norma Rogers for supporting the veteran center programs, Brenda Pennels, who will be stepping down from her leadership role at the post, Charlie Tufts for his organization for Red Cross blood drives, and John Hill for his dedication and support for Girls and Boys State.
Jeff Riddle, teacher at Windham High School, was selected as the American Legion Post 148 Educator of the Year and at the ceremony to recognize him, he was told he was also being recognized as the American Legion Department of Maine Educator of the Year for his “unfaltering support of veterans and the Toby Pennels 5K for the second year,” said Post Commander Mel Greenier. He will be honored at the state level on Saturday, June 18th at 10:45 a.m.
“It’s challenging to receive an award that distinguishes me above my colleagues. I’m humbly honored to receive this recognition today,” Riddle said, emotionally.
The guest speaker was Mark Franklin from Washington, who is part of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. The Windham post was one of 10,000 around the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Vietnam conflict. During the conflict the United States lost approximately 380 Vietnam veterans a day.
After the indoor ceremony, which included the reading of Windham and post veterans who have passed in the past year, concluded, Rod Voisine lead the crowd outside in the sunshine to dedicate the new 50th anniversary pavers installed at the Vietnam War memorial. Then veteran commemorative pavers were dedicated.
Representatives from the Southern Maine Detachment of the Marine Corps League did a 21-gun salute and Dean Preston from Troop 805 played taps on the bugle. In all 169 commemorative pavers were placed to honor living, passed and soldiers killed in action.
Family members took pictures and honored their loved ones service.