BANGOR, Maine — The first four walking sticks made especially for Maine veterans of the global war on terrorism were presented May 8 at the Cole Land Transportation Museum.
The rest of the 700 maple walking sticks, each with its own symbolic decals, will be handed out prior to the 10:30 a.m. Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 25, in Bangor.
To receive one, present ID and proof of service 9-10:20 a.m. at tables under the canopy of the TD Banknorth building on Exchange Street. Note that the street will be closed at 9:30 a.m. for the parade.
“If you accept a walking stick,” said retired Lt. Col. Chuck Knowlen, Vietnam War veteran and museum volunteer, “we hope you will participate in the parade, either by walking or riding one of the three buses. Vehicles will have signs for veterans.”
The recipients, from any branch of the service, may be “active, Guard, Reserve and retired,” Knowlen said.
They include Mainers who served in the Persian Gulf; Desert Storm; Desert Shield; Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo; Afghan war or Enduring Freedom; and Iraqi war or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Himself a veteran of a war that brought no gratitude for service for decades, Knowlen was pleased as punch to present four Maine Army National Guard members with a walking stick.
“I’m thrilled for us that we can recognize them,” he said afterward. He handed out the decorated walking sticks to:
ä Sgt. First Class Gilman Thibeault of Hermon, motor sergeant, 1136th Transportation Co. Thibeault has been deployed overseas four times.
ä Spc. Meaghan Bowers, South China, supplies, driver for battalion commander, chaplain’s assistant, 152nd Component Repair Co. Bowers was deployed to Iraq. Her husband, Sgt. Glendon Bowers, is in Afghanistan with the 286th CSSB, a supply battalion.
ä Sgt. First Class Scott Crooker, Hampden, mechanic, 152nd Component Repair Co. Crooker was deployed to Iraq.
ä Sgt. Michelle Michaud, mechanic and security, Old Town, 152nd Component Repair Co. Michaud was deployed to Iraq.
After each presentation, Knowlen said simply, “Thank you.” The recipients were certainly pleased to receive the new walking stick.
“I think it’s an extreme honor,” said Thibeault, originally from Fort Kent. The motor sergeant who was employed four times between 1990 and 2003 — to Bosnia, Kosovo, Guatemala and Iraq — will have another honor on Memorial Day.
“[Galen] Cole is going to have me drive the World War II Jeep in the parade,” Thibeault said.
Cole, who founded the museum that carries out the walking stick project, said he was glad to see the program include these newest veterans and personnel, “all these guys and gals who have been in service.”
The half-mile parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Exchange Street and finish up by Davenport Park at Main and Cedar streets.
Limited parking for veterans who have difficulty walking will be available in the TD Banknorth lot. The two buses at the parking garage for veterans riding in the parade will be waiting behind the garage, next to Kenduskeag Stream.
Cole Land Transportation Museum has scheduled several afternoon activities at the museum, 405 Perry Road.
World War II veterans may receive red, white and blue decals for their walking sticks 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Cole Land Transportation Museum, and after the band concert there. Maine Veteran Services will present Honorable Service Certificates at noon. Band booster parents will run concessions 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
The 1:15 p.m. program at the museum will include remarks by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, an address by Maj. Gen. John Libby, presentation of Bronze Star Medal and Ranger Tab to Bert Skinner, and youngsters reading their winning essays, “What Freedom Means to Me After Interviewing a Veteran.”
Placing wreaths at the museum’s memorials will be Paul Wilbur, World War II; Richard Giffard, Purple Heart; Dolores Hainer, Korean War; and Charles McClead, Vietnam War.
Also participating in the afternoon program will be Cole; Knowlen, master of ceremonies; Gary Cole, museum chairman of the board; Hermon High School JROTC; Bangor High School Band; and John Simpson, CEO, Cole Foundation.
Bring lawn chairs to enjoy a USO-type show by the Bangor High School Band after the program. Afterward, admission will be free to the museum.
Global war on terrorism walking sticks must be picked up on Memorial Day prior to the Bangor parade.
Vietnam veterans who have a walking stick and also served in the global war on terrorism may pick up special decals for their walking sticks at the museum after Memorial Day.
The walking stick program was begun 12 years ago as a way to get more World War II veterans to take part in Bangor parades.
Walking sticks for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from Maine are available with ID and proof of service 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at the Cole Museum.
Those who do not qualify for a free walking stick may order one from Peavey Manufacturing in Eddington, 843-7861.\
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BANGOR — Memorial Day parade, 10:30 a.m. May 25. Begins on Exchange Street, proceeds up Main Street to Davenport Park at corner of Cedar Street. Veterans welcome to march in units or ride in buses.
BANGOR — Maine veterans of global war on terrorism receive maple walking stick from Cole museum by presenting ID and proof of service, 9-10:20 a.m. Memorial Day at tables under canopy by TD Banknorth on Exchange Street.
BANGOR — Program, 1:15 p.m. Memorial Day, Cole museum, 405 Perry Road. Patriotic concert afterward by Bangor High School Band.
CLIFTON — Memorial Day worship service, 9:30 a.m. May 24, Clifton United Baptist Church, 742 Airline Road. Breakfast afterward.
FRANKFORT — Memorial Day service, 8 a.m. May 25, Veterans’ Memorial Park, center of town.
ORONO — Memorial Day parade, 10 a.m., from front parking lot at Orono High School, down Main Street, American Legion Post 84 ceremony at center of Stillwater Bridge, parade continues to American Legion Hall, Park Street. Crossroad Ministries to collect nonperishable food items during parade. To participate in parade, call Randy, 866-7103.
PROSPECT — The Memorial Day parade will begin at 11:30 a.m., one mile south of intersection of Route 174 and Route 1A. Bucksport Middle School band will play during parade and after at the Veterans Memorial in the center of town. Events will include a float, antique cars and firetrucks.