Meredith commander tells Veterans Day gathering Legion needs new members to survive

MEREDITH — Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post Commander Bob Kennelly told those attending a Veterans Day ceremony here yesterday that the the Post needs more members in order to survive.
''We won't have a viable legion post unless more people join. We're losing our World War II and Korean War veterans and starting to lose some who served in Vietnam. We want to make sure it survives as a viable organization and need people who have ties to the service to step up and join us,'' said Kennelly, who said that there are support organizations like the auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion are open to non-veterans.
''It's always been our tradition to come together to take care of our veterans and we need a strong Legion Post in order to do that.'' said Kennelly.
A Korean War veteran, Kennelly turned the microphone over to another Korean War veteran, Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, who gave a history of Veterans Day, pointing out that it was originally known as Armistice Day and first celebrated in 1926 to mark the end of World War I, which was concluded with an armistice at 11 a.m. on November 11 in 1918.
It was designated as a day to honor all veterans in 1954 according to Finn, who said that the purposes of Veterans Day and Memorial Day are often confused.
He said that Memorial Day honors military personnel who died in service to their country. Veterans Day thanks all men and women who have served honorably in the military during times of war and peace.
He said that American leaders have known throughout the nation's history how important it is to honor veterans and quoted General George Washington, the first American president , who said "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."
Following the traditional Veterans Day ceremony in front of the library, the Legion Color Guard and those taking part in the ceremony walked to the site of the POW-MIA Memorial at Hesky Park, where they were greeted by Bob Jones, one of those who helped found the weekly POW-MIA vigil which marked its 25th year in August.
Jones said that the Meredith site, which is the state's original POW-MIA memorial is the best site in the state to observe Veterans Day, along with the N.H. Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen and the N.H. Soldiers Home in Tilton.
He introduced Karen Thurston of Gilford, head of the Blue Star Mothers of New Hampshire, who revived the statewide organization, which provides support and recognition for the mothers of members of the armed forces, in 2004 when her son was deployed overseas.
She said the organization now has 137 members and last year helped lay 1,000 wreaths at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery last year. It will take part in the Wreaths for Boscawen event on Dec. 14 of this year.


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Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, a Korean War veteran, speaks at the Veterans Day ceremony in Meredith on Monday. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)