Mainers honor all who serve

Posted Nov. 11, 2008, at 9:10 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:54 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — It seemed almost everyone on the Veterans Day parade route through Brewer and Bangor on Tuesday had someone to remember.

For John Torrance of Hampden, there were many to remember, including Frank Jewell, who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. Jewell died earlier this year.

“He used to march in this parade every year,” said Torrance as a pair of American flags waved behind him. The flags were tucked into each of his back pockets by his 8-year-old granddaughter, Kristen Drew of Winterport.

For Jodi Michaud of Levant, it was her father, Albert Bouchard, who served in the Army during World War II.

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“I came to encore the veterans,” Michaud said as she watched the parade of veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam as well as a new group, the Global War on Terrorism veterans, which include those who served in Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The veterans were joined by marching bands from several area high schools and the Maine Army Guard, Scout groups, and Masons, who were gathered on Main Street in front of the empty spot that once housed the Bangor Masonic Temple. The building was destroyed in a fire that began the evening of Jan. 15, 2004, and raged well into the next day.

A banner that read “We Salute Veterans” flapped above them in Tuesday’s cold, brisk wind.

During the parade, Ruth and John Bunker of Holden were thinking about Ruth’s father, Dean Pennypacker, who served in Luxembourg and London during WWII. At 84, Pennypacker now is too frail to march, but he still is healthy enough to share his war stories, the couple said.

“It’s amazing to think about what [veterans] went through. A lotta people are still going through it now,” Ruth Bunker said of the troops now stationed in the Middle East and other global hotspots.

Though they aren’t yet adults, members of the Hermon High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program have an idea of what war means to Maine families. The parent of one member is deployed and the parents of two others are scheduled to be deployed early next year, according to Chief Warrant Officer Chris Bowers.

“They really appreciate the opportunity to honor our veterans,” Bowers said of the high school students serving in the program.

In addition to the parade, veterans were honored at the Cole Land Transportation Museum, which hosts a series of events each Veterans Day. This year’s observances drew an estimated 500 to the Bangor museum.

Among the highlights were patriotic music performed by the Bangor Band, the dedication of a Korean War monument, the award of Silver Stars and military service certificates, and the recognition of winners of the museum’s annual “What Freedom Means to Me After Interviewing a Veteran” essay contest.

The granite Korean War monument is the second to be erected in Bangor. The official Maine Korean War Veterans Memorial is located at Mount Hope Cemetery at 1038 State St.

The one at the Cole museum was built to pay special tribute to Maine’s Medal of Honor recipients: Cpl. David B. Champagne, Cpl. Clair Goodblood, Sgt. George Libby, Maj. Charles Loring and Col. Lewis L. Millett.

Although he could not be in Bangor for Veterans Day observances, Gov. John Baldacci offered the following statement:

“Today we should all pause and reflect on the more than 150,000 veterans currently living in Maine, and all veterans who came before them, giving of themselves in immeasurable ways.

“With every veteran’s name, it is important to remember that a family is attached to that name. A father, mother, husband, wife, son or daughter had to be without these brave soldiers for months, if not years, so they could fight for the liberties and freedoms we enjoy in America.

“Veterans Day is a day for the citizens of this country to say a proper ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have battled for it. I encourage all Maine citizens to do their part in honoring veterans from all wars, past and present, and thank them for their service,” he said.

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