BANGOR, Maine — The first four walking sticks made especially for Maine veterans of the global war on terrorism were handed out on May 8 at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.
The rest of the 700 maple walking sticks, each with its own symbolic decals, will be handed out before the 10:30 a.m. Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 25, in Bangor.
Qualified veterans from Waldo and Knox counties are welcome to join the parade and receive a walking stick.
To receive one, present proof of service 9-10:20 a.m. at tables under the canopy of the TD Banknorth building on Exchange Street, Bangor. Note that Exchange Street will be closed for the parade beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“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.
Knowlen on May 8 presented the new walking sticks to four veterans:
• Sgt. First Class Gilman Thibeault of Hermon, motor sergeant, 1136th Transportation Co. Thibeault has been deployed overseas four times.
• Spc. Meaghan Bowers, South China, supplies, driver for battalion commander, chaplain’s assistant, Det. 152nd Component Repair Co. Bowers was deployed to Iraq. Her husband, Sgt. Glendon Bowers, is in Afghanistan with the 286th CSSB, a supply battalion.
• Sgt. First Class Scott Crooker, Hampden, mechanic, Det. 152nd Component Repair Co. Crooker was deployed to Iraq.
• Sgt. Michelle Michaud, mechanic and security, Old Town, Det. 152nd Component Repair Co. Michaud was deployed to Iraq.
After each presentation, Knowlen said to the recipient, “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 deployed 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. Knowlen encourages veterans to come early before the street is shut down.
Limited parking for veterans who have difficulty walking will be available in the TD Banknorth lot.
The 1:15 p.m. program at Cole Land Transportation Museum will include an address by Maj. Gen. John Libby, the presentation of Honorable Service Certificates, and youngsters reading their winning essays, “What Freedom Means to Me After Interviewing a Veteran.”
Bring lawn chairs to enjoy a patriotic concert by the Bangor High School Band. Booster parents will run concessions.
Knowlen added that Vietnam veterans who also served in the global war on terrorism may pick up special decals for their Vietnam War walking sticks after Memorial Day at the museum.
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.
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. There will be a float, antique cars and firetrucks.