Meredith speakers urge veterans to keep American Legion vital as an advocate for their interests

MEREDITH — Speakers at two Veterans Day ceremonies held here Tuesday called on a new generation of Iraq and Afghan war veterans to join their local American Legion Post and help the Legion remain an effective advocacy group for veterans.
''Make sure your brothers and sisters in arms are respected. The American Legion once had 3-million members and now we're down to 1.5 million. We need new blood,'' said Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post service officer and former commander Bob Kennelly at a ceremony held in front of the Meredith Library.
He noted the historic impact the American Legion has had, noting that in 1943 the Legion pushed for what would become the GI Bill, which has provided educational support for millions of veterans and has been one of the most effective government programs ever offered.
Kennelly encouraged non-veterans to join support organizations like the auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion to help ensure that veterans continue to have a voice on public policy.
Later, the Legion Color Guard and those taking part in the ceremony walked to the site of the POW-MIA Memorial at nearby Hesky Park, where they were greeted by Bob Jones, one of those who helped found the weekly POW-MIA vigil which marked its 26th year in August.
Jones said that the Meredith site, which is the state's original POW-MIA memorial, is ''a special place, an important place'' and said that he has been a proud member of the American Legion for 46 years.
He noted that Post #33 has been involved in an effort to locate grave markers of veterans and earlier in the day had placed flags and markers at five veterans grave sites, three from the Revolutionary War and two from the War of 1812.
He urged younger veterans to join Post #33 and said ''veterans organizations are changing for the better. All the veterans organizations are supporting each other and need new members to help with their missions.''
Also speaking at the earlier event held in front of the library were state Senator Jeanie Forester, whose father served with an airborne unit during the Korean War, and Korean War veteran, Master Sgt. Elliott Finn.
Forrester urged those attending to remember when they left to ''thinks of things you can do to make a difference in the lives of our veterans as a way to thank those who put their lives on the line.''
Finn said that there was a reason that those who were gathered at the ceremony weren't speaking German or Japanese and that was because of the sacrifices of those who served in World War II, when 16 million Americans were in the armed services.
He said that there were only 1-million service members left from what has been called the Greatest Generation, which survived the Great Depression and went on to defeat the Axis powers in World War II.
''They're dying at the rate of 250 a day and by 2036 there will be no World War II veterans left. So give those living a hug and thank them for their service,'' said Finn.

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Weirs Boulevard cemetery holds grave of Revolutionary War veteran: Winthrop Langley

LACONIA — Veterans organizations are constantly searching for the grave sites of fellow veterans of previous wars in order to place markers and American flags on those graves.
Yesterday in Meredith, members of the Griggs-Wyatt Post #33 American Legion marked Veterans Day by placing markers and flags at five grave sites, three of them soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War and two who served in the war of 1812.
The search for veterans' grave sites has been going on for many years as is evidenced by an account of one which was located in 1935 and whose story is recounted on the Laconia Ancestry Too website, which is maintained by the Laconia Historical and Museum Society.
This following is from the Laconia Citizen for Saturday, June 29, 1935:
"Care for Grave of Winthrop Langley:
"Laconia Post, 1670, V.F.W., has just completed the installing of a fence around the cemetery at Langley Cove where the bodies of Winthrop Langley, veteran of the Revolutionary war and his family are buried.
"Winthrop Langley was born in 1750 and died in 1834 and was buried on the shores of the lake where he settled after serving in Capt. Butler's company, Great Island 1775; and West Point, 1780.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars take a great interest in remembering the graves of departed comrades of all wars and feel it is a disgrace to see a cemetery all covered with brush and stones where our soldier
dead are buried.
"Laconia post a short time ago cleaned up in the Laconia district alone, six of these private cemeteries.
"The committee in charge besides the commander Guy Colby included W.D. Kempton, Winfield Pearson, Bill Reister and Custer Sanborn."
The cemetery and the enclosure which was installed in 1935 are still visible from Weirs Boulevard as is an American flag which was installed at then grave in recent years which bears an insignia marker from the Sons of the American Revolution.
A history of the Winthrop Langley family which included on the website and written by a researcher of the cemetery's history says that Langley Cove was named for the Langley family and that Winthrop Langley settled in what was then Gilford on Long Bay (now known as Paugus Bay) after moving to the area from Newmarket in 1775.
Langley married Achsah Quimby, daughter of John Quimby of Gilford in 1813. According to the researcher a Mr. Libbey, who was an old neighbor, remembered attending her funeral when a small boy. The researcher wrote ''She was buried beside the highway on a small elevation, where we found twelve graves, under some pretty pine trees with field stones for head and foot of graves (the cuttings nearly work off by the elements), which is the last resting place of the Langley family, just across from Quimby Island, in Langley Cove that formerly was main land, but the water has worn a passage and made it an island.''
What was then known as Quimby Island is now known as Christmas Island where a resort and a nearby restaurant were developed by Phil Roux of Gilford in the 1950s.
For more on the Langley family visit

A Sons of the American Revolution marker and an American flag mark the grave of Winthrop Langley, who fought in the American Revolution. The grave is located in a cemetery across from Langley Cove on Weirs Boulevard which also is the burial site of members of Langley's family. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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City Council to sound public on proposal to sell lot Lakeport Landing calls home

LACONIA — The City Council this week concluded that it could not simply renew the lease of a strip of land along Union Avenue to Lakeport Landing Marina and instead chose to offer a proposal to subdivide the parcel — sell one portion and retain the other — for public comment at its next regularly scheduled on November 24.

The property, 0.81 acre, lies between the roadway and railway and runs from Elm Street northward to halfway between Harrison Street and Walnut Street. The property was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods, which have been exercised. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 35,284 square-foot building on the lot. The property has an assessed value of $389,600 of which the building represents $263,200.

The lease expires on November 1, 2015 and the tenant has no right to extend it further. At the termination of the lease all buildings and improvements on the lot become the property of the city.

On the recommendation of Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 2) the council agreed to sound the public on a plan to subdivide the property, offering the northern parcel, where the building stands, for sale to the highest bidder and retaining ownership of the remaining land, which is adjacent to the lot housing the old Lakeport Fire Station, though separated by seldom-used railroad tracks.

When the council last addressed the issue two weeks ago, Erica Blizzard, who owns the marina, said that the loss of the property would have, "a significant impact on our business." She explained that the building houses the firm's offices and showrooms. Although the marina owns three other building in the immediate vicinity, on lower Paugus Bay, she said that each is built to specific purpose and cannot be converted to accommodate sales and administration."We could not offer boat sales at that location," Blizzard said, explaining that its sales operation would have to be moved to another location and because it would be difficult to find waterfront property, "we would undoubtedly lose sales."
On Monday,kSteve Whalley, the owner of HK Powersports further north on Union Avenue, described Lakeport Landing as "a good business and good employer" and cautioned the council against taking steps that would have an adverse impact on the firm.
The portion of the property the council proposes to sell abuts Irwin Marine, which has repeatedly expressed interest in acquiring it.

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Laconia marks 11th Hour of 11th Day of 11th Month

LACONIA — Beneath a bright sun and blue sky more than a hundred men, women and children gathered at Veteran's Square yesterday to pay tribute to the sons and daughters of the city who have worn the uniform and born the arms of the armed forces of the United States in the annual celebration of Veterans Day.

The voices of the chorus of Laconia High School filled the air with a medley of the hymns of each of the services — the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard — to open the ceremonies.

Remarking that the day is one to remember friends and loved ones "either in person or via an heirloom photograph", Mayor Ed Engler said he chose to recall his late father, then drew a snapshot of Donald George Engler in his Army uniform from his coat pocket. He noted that his father was a toddler when Armistice Day was first celebrated in 1919 to mark the first anniversary end of "the war to end all wars . . . until less than 25 years later, it wasn't."

Engler said that by 1942 his father was in uniform and arrived in France as the Battle of the Bulge was waning. He survived the fighting in France and Germany as the war drew to a close. "He was not a hero, in any specular sense of the word," Engler said. "He was just another kid from a small American town who answered the call to serve his country when it came. He did his job. Just like almost all of the 40 million men and women who have worn a United States of America uniform, dating back to 1775."

"The price of freedom," Engler said, "we know has been high. And it remains high. And I say , thank you dad. And to our veterans everywhere, thank you all."

Valerie Johnston, president of the VFW Auxiliary, reminder her listeners that the average age of those in uniform is just 19 "half-man, half-boy." He is an average students, she went on, who played sports, listened to rock 'n roll, swing, jazz, hip-hop and 105 millimeter howitzers. He may forget to brush his teeth, she confessed, but never to clean his rifle. He can save your life or take it — "that's his job," she declared. And he has wept weep in public or in private, unashamed, she closed.

Earl Beale. commander of Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, spoke of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families — frequent moves and separations, risks and anxieties. "Warriors need advocates," he said, in what he said "is not a political statement," explained why the American Legion and VFW fought to expose and overcome the shameful shortcomings of the Veterans Administration. "Veterans need each other," Beale declared, "and our country needs its veterans."

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