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Gilford Memorial Day gathering told to be 'forever grateful'

GILFORD — The clouds broke just in time for the the 300 or so people who attended the annual Memorial Day parade yesterday.

The parade was led by flag bearer and Police Officer Charles Hopkins who has been a local part-time officer for 50 years in both Laconia and Gilford.

Marine Corp Veteran Doug Wall and Army Veteran Wesley DeSousa lead the Gilford Police Department Color Guard and Fire Chief and Deputy Chief Steve Carrier and Brad Ober lead the Fire Department Color Guard.

The Knights of Columbus were there in full-regalia and the Gilford High School marching band brought up the rear with patriotic songs. Also participating were veterans in a white fire truck, veterans, surviving spouses, Blue and Gold Star mothers, members of the Board of Selectmen, town department heads, and the Girl Scouts.

Once at the cemetery, high school trumpeter Hunter Anderson played Taps.

At the route that runs from the Gilford Community Church to the World War I and II Memorial to the Pine Grove Cemetery, Hopkins handed the flag to two members of the military who raised it after a members of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Troop 243 laid a ceremonial wreath.

Reverend Michael Graham gave a benediction at each of the two sites reminding his audience that "may we never forget what they have done."

Along the parade route, people lined Belknap Mountain Road as the parade progressed along the quarter mile stretch.

The keynote speech at the cemetery was given by Selectman Vice Chair Gus Benevides.

"We cannot allow ourselves to every stop being grateful," Benevides began.

Benevides took yesterday speech as a time to not only honor those who had given their life in battle but to honor those who served but came back wounded both inside and out.

"We should honor our soldiers and their families who served and who are still serving," he continued. "We must encourage and support them."
Benevides encouraged those who were at the ceremony to seek out a veteran and ask what he or she could do to help them.

"It is our opportunity now to serve our veterans," He said. "May we always be grateful to the families of our soldiers."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:52

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Police break up teen drinking party in Laconia

LACONIA — Police broke up an under-age drinking party at 1:27 a.m. on Sunday after getting a call about a large party at 197 Province Street.

Austin Kessler, 19, of 197 Province St. has so far been charged with one count of internal possession of alcohol.

Police said the circumstances surrounding the party are still under investigation.

According to police, when officers arrived the saw several people who were on a porch run into the home.

When police went to the door, the said they saw numerous beer cans, bottles and red solo cups strewn on the deck.

Police say many of the party goers ran behind the house into a wooded area and additional officers were called to the scene to assist with the people who were there and to look for those who fled.

Five people so far have been charged with unlawful/internal possession of alcohol. They ranged in age from 17 to 20.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:39

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American Motorcyclist Association salutes Laconia Bike Week

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Has named Laconia Motorcycle Week as the Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year.

Laconia Motorcycle Week, at 91 years, the oldest Motorcycle event in the country, was up against tough competition for this honor, the Iron Butt Rally and New York's Americade, but the AMA committee voters decided that Laconia deserved the award. AMA Director of Racing Bill Cumbow said, "Laconia's organizers always do a good job of advancing the core values of the AMA. Laconia Motorcycle Week promotes the motorcycle lifestyle in a safe, fun and responsible way, and we're looking forward to another 91 years of this great event."

Charlie St. Clair, Laconia Motorcycle Week Association's executive director accepted the award on behalf of the rally, saying, "It was gratifying to be recognized by the most prestigious national motorcycling organization in the country. Obviously, the "In Laconia We Ride" concept rings true for the AMA as well as rally fans."

Other award winners included Off-Road Organizer of the Year: East Coast Enduro Association; Track Racing Organizer of the Year: American Sportbike Racing Association; ATV Organizer of the Year: Michael Coburn Racing. In addition, the country's best amateur motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle racers from the track, trail, desert and everywhere in between were honored at the American Motorcyclist Association Championship Banquet in January.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:37

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Gold Star Father tells Memorial Day gathering in Meredith that 3-day weekend has ruined observance

MEREDITH — Gold Star father Mark Decoteau told a crow gathered for a Memorial Day service at the POW-MIA monument here Monday that ''as a nation we seem to have lost our way when it comes to Memorial Day.''
Decoteau, a 1983 West Point graduate whose son, Army Pfc. Marc Paul Decoteau, was killed in action in Afghanistan on Jan. 29, 2010, said Memorial Day is not a holiday at all yet has been turned into a national holiday style event marked by barbecues and shopping rather than a day to honor those who gave their lives in service to the nation ever since Congress changed the date from May 30 to the fourth Monday in May in 1971, creating a three-day weekend.

He said that the original Memorial Day dates back to after the Civil War and was known as Decoration Day for years because that was when the graves of those who had died during the Civil War were decorated.
He said that during his military career he and his fellow soldiers attended many services where they honored those who gave their lives and that those ceremonies served as stark reminders of the meaning of war. For him they became even more meaningful during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, particularly after the death in 2005 of a friend and fellow West Point graduate.
But nothing prepared him for the cold night in January of 2010 when he received word that his 19-year-old son, Marc Paul, who had joined the U.S. Army right out of Plymouth High School in 2008, had been killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
''After that, Memorial Day took on a significance I could not fathom before'' said Decoteau. He said that since the American Revolution some 1,330,000 Americans have dies serving their country and urged those in the audience to look, listen, and learn about American military history and its significance.
''Take time to know them (our veterans) and the price we have paid for freedom,'' said Decoteau. He is the town manager of Waterville Valley and was at the ceremony with his wife, Nancy, who was presented with flowers for her status as a Gold Star mother, and is the town manager in Warren. Their son, Andrew, is a sophomore at West Point.
Also honored as a Gold Star mother at the ceremony was Lenda Cournoyer, of Gilmanton, whose son Nicholas, 25, a Laconia High School graduate, was killed in Iraq in 2006. Natalie Bowles, his sister, was also honored at the ceremony as a Gold Star sister and placed a wreath at the POW-MIA monument during the ceremony.
The POW-MIA service followed upon the heels of a ceremony held in front of the Meredith Library earlier in the morning which was presided over by Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Commander Bob Kennelly and at which State Senator Jeane Forrester spoke.


Memorialmeredith 2

Veteran Elliott Finn and members of the audience listen attentively to a MemorIal Day speech at the POW-MIA Monument at Hesky Park in Meredith delivered by Mark Decoteau of Waterville Valley, whose son Marc Paul Decoteau was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:34

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