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Veterans Appreciation Day on June 1 to honor Galen Cole, Air Guard personnel in Walking Stick Ceremony

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BANGOR — Veterans Appreciation Day with a special Walking Stick Ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, June 1, at Cole Land Transportation Museum. The event will honor not only the World War II veteran who started the program, but some of the youngest to receive the walking sticks — some 100 men and women serving in the 101st Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard in Bangor.

Maine’s adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell, will be on hand to honor Galen Cole, 88, who started the Walking Stick Program at the museum several years ago to encourage World War II veterans to take part in Bangor parades on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day. Also participating will be the Old Town High School Band.

Galen Cole and Peavey Museum in Eddington were ready that first Memorial Day with 600 walking sticks for Maine World War II veterans, but were overwhelmed when 1,200 WWII-ers showed up with discharge papers or other proof of war service. IOUs were given to the overflow group, and more walking sticks were made.

More recently, light blue walking sticks were designed to honor Maine Korean War veterans, and later on sticks with special stickers of red, yellow and green for Maine Vietnam War veterans. Most recently the museum has come up with a walking stick for Maine veterans and current service personnel in the Global War on Terror.

Current military personnel are some of the least likely to bring their military ID to the museum to get their walking stick, especially since deployments may take them away from Maine.

Jim Neville, director of facilities at the museum and himself a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Marines with overseas deployments, said he was pleased for the museum to take this opportunity to honor current members of the Maine Air National Guard.

The walking program has been extremely successful in getting hundreds of Maine veterans to turn out for patriotic parades each year. At Bangor parades, those who participate with their walking sticks may receive a special red-and-white sticker applied to their walking stick by museum volunteers.

Walking sticks for Maine veterans are available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Veterans Day at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road, Bangor. Those applying must bring a discharge form, current military ID or other proof of war service. For information, call the Cole Museum at 990-3600, ext. 13.