Ceremony in Laconia focused on John L. Sanborn, who died in the Korean War at 18
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Together with their counterparts in cities and towns across the state and around the country, residents of Laconia yesterday remembered and revered the men and women who lost their lives in the service of our country with a parade along Main Street and ceremony at Veterans Square to mark Memorial Day.
Under a gray but dry sky, Ray Peavey Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, introduced the Laconia High School chorus, whose rendering of the national anthem was followed by the hymns of each of branch of the armed services — The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.
Hillary Seeger, vice commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1670 and a Blue Star Mother, recalled one young soldier returning from combat overseas, saying, "I saw things in my twenties that no one should see in their whole lives."
Seeger told of her daughter, who serves at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where she oversees the the flights of C-5 Galaxy aircraft ferrying military personnel to and from the "sandbox," of the theater of war in the Middle East. She said her daughter puts faces to the names on the manifests listing those who leave for the war zone and "it breaks her heart" to find the names missing from among those who return.
"I am so thankful my stars are blue and so very grateful to the mothers whose stars are gold," said Seeger, stifling her tears.
Blue Star Mothers is a group formed to provide support for those who had sons or daughters in active service in war, first organized during World War II. Gold Star Mothers was formed after World War I to support those who lost a son or daughter in the service of our country.
Speaking for all residents of the city, Mayor Ed Engler brought the significance and immediacy of Memorial Day to the city streets and present day. The mayor recalled the experience of John L. Sanborn, who was raised on Mechanic Street and would turn 84 next Sunday, but for the Korean War. At 17, Sanborn enlisted in the Army, and less than a month after his 18th birthday fighting broke out on the Korean peninsula. Engler suspected Private Sanborn, trained as a tank gunner, probably could not place Korea on a map, much less grasp the dynamics of the Cold War. Yet on Sept. 5, 1950, Sanborn died at Taegu fighting with the forces of the United Nations to defend South Korea. In 1973, the city dedicated a park on Mechanic Street in in honor of Private Sanborn, which the mayor said remains a jewel in Lakeport.
The mayor noted that altogether 551 citizens of Laconia fought in Korea, all of whom are remembered by name on a monument at Veterans Square. Including Sanborn, a dozen gave their lives, the other 11 Engler honored aloud — Arthur J. Bower Jr., James Hildreth, Floyd N. Alexander, Edward F. Ewens, Rudy H. Haferkamp, Albert A. McCarthy, Ralph C. Merrill, Jr., Richard E. Rivers, Erwin C. Young, Jr., George A. Curley Jr. and Richard J. Bolduc.
To mark the significance of Memorial Day, Engler drew on United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought in the Civil War, from which the day of remembrance originated. Speaking in Keene on what was then Decoration Day, Holmes said that the occasion should have meaning for those without personal experience and memory of the conflict.
"It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it," Holmes said, "to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return."
More directly, Peavey reminded everyone that Memorial Day is "not about picnics and auto races, but about remembering those who have paid the price."
Ray Peavy,Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, left, and Bill North, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1670, led the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
Boy Scouts from Troop 68 marched in the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
The Marching Sachems, outfitted from the rain that never fell, provided the martial music for the Memorial Day parade through downtown. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
Mayor Ed Engler, flanked to the left by City Council Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) and to the right by City Councilors Bob Hamel and Henry Lipman (Ward 3), accompanied by his daughter Bessie, represented the city in the Memorial Day parade. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
Mayor Ed Engler, speaking to a crowd gathered at Veterans Square on Memorial Day, recalled the service and sacrifice of Private John L. Sanborn of Lakeport, in whose name Sanborn Park on Mechanic Street is dedicated. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
Bill North, left, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1670, and Ray Peavy Jr., commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, place the wreath at Veterans Square honoring the Laconians who served and fell in country's wars during the past century. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)