BELFAST, Maine — Area veterans were treated to a Fourth of July chicken barbecue in City Park, protected from a Saturday afternoon downpour at the Wilma Moses Pavilion.
The picnic was organized by Gad and Noreen Liebmann, who live within walking distance of the park, and was attended by members of local AmVets, American Legion and VFW posts. The Liebmanns said they hoped the picnic would inspire others in Maine and across the country to do the same thing for veterans next year.
“We’re both veterans, and we just felt we should do something for those who served our country,” Gad Liebmann said. “The picnic was my wife’s idea.”
The couple met in California in the 1960s while they both were serving with the U.S. Army. Noreen Liebmann said they took a drama class together and when she heard Gad speak, his voice reminded her of an old boyfriend back home in Maine.
“We played husband and wife in the play, and wouldn’t you know, it became a reality,” she said.
Noreen was born in Brewer and raised in East Hampden. Her grandfather, Horatio Washburn, enlisted in the Army in Manchester and served in the Civil War with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Noreen said her family has a long tradition of helping veterans, and she still can recall visits to the veterans hospital at Togus as a young girl.
“We wanted to do something for the veterans. We believe they have been somewhat discredited by some who linked them to having terrorist leanings,” she said. “That really hurt us because we don’t believe there is any credence to that. I believe most served because they wanted to protect our nation and our freedoms.”
Gad Liebmann said he cleaned out the Wilma Moses Pavilion last week in preparation for the picnic, but his efforts were wasted when Thursday night’s rainstorm flooded the park and swept two inches of mud onto the pavilion floor. Liebmann said he used his garden hose to wash the mud away Friday and crossed his fingers when he heard more rain was possible that night. Saturday morning was damp, but the heavy rains stayed away.
“It all worked out great,” Liebmann said as he served barbecued chicken, potato salad and home-baked beans.