LACONIA — "Heroes," Mayor Michael Seymour told a crowd of some 200 gathered at Veterans Park yesterday to mark Veteran's Day, "walk among us everyday. They are our family members, our co-workers, they are teachers, they are business owners. They are our community."
Yesterday's ceremony at Veterans Square was hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1670, whose commander Glenn Groleau reminded the crowd they came to honor "veterans from every period of peace" as well as those who served and fell in times of war. "I just want people to remember the sacrifices these men and women have made for the freedom we have," he said. Offering an opening prayer, Groleau sought grace for all who wore the uniform and bore the arms of the United States and "comfort for all who gave their loved ones" to the service of the country.
The concert choir of Laconia High School, directed by Debbie Gibson, sang the National Anthem, followed by a medley featuring the official songs of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, bracketed by "Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "You're a Grand Old Flag."
In his keynote address, Seymour paid tribute to three veterans who recently passed away.
— A veteran of both the Korean War and the Vietnam War and former Commander, Trustee and Chaplain of the American Legion, Wilkins Smith Post 1, Leo "Joe" Couture, served in the Army for 22 years before retiring as Sergeant First Class.
— Harry Bryant, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II , spent 35 years in the Army and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, owned and operated Head's Electric until 1998.
— Known for his marksmanship, Bob Kingsbury fought with the 8th Army under the command of General George Patton in World War II, reenlisted during the Korean War and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1979 with a Purple Heart.
Seymour said that although many will not serve in the armed forces, all have much to learn from those who do. "The qualities we learn from our veterans — honor, duty, courage, sacrifice — are characteristics that make us better individuals," he said. "Their everyday conduct conduct inspires us to reach beyond our own limits."
Veterans, Seymour remarked in closing, should be honored 365 days a year. "When you see a veteran or active serviceman," he said, "take the time to walk up to them, shake their hand and say thank you. It's the least we can do."
CAPTION: With his wife Nancy by his side, Bill Morley of Gilford, who served with Air Force during the Korean War and later performed with the Air Force concert band, kept perfect time to the harmonies of the concert choir of Laconia High School when the city celebrated Veteran's Day at Veterans Park yesterday. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).