NEWPORT CITY – Veteran’s Day marks the signing of the Armistice and the end of World War I. The event took place Nov. 11, 1918. Yesterday, area residents remembered the day and the men and women who served in all wars with a program at the Newport Municipal Building.
Newport City Mayor Paul Monette expressed his gratitude to all veterans. He said he is blessed to be an American citizen. To be free in the United States is an honor and a privilege, Monette said.
“Freedom isn’t free,” said Monette. “You all answered the call to protect our freedom.”
American Legion Ladies Auxiliary State President Candace Huseman, who spoke for Newport Post #21, also spoke on behalf of local veteran Harvey Robitallie who was ill and was unable to attend the program. Veterans Day honors everyone who served in the military, Huseman said. She also spoke about the veterans who died years after they stopped wearing uniforms.
“Today we are here to celebrate, to honor and commemorate our POWs/MIAs and our veterans living and dead,” said Huseman. “The men and women who in every war since this country began have given testimony to their loyalty to this country and their own great courage.”
Huseman believes the United States is the only country to bury its solders far away from their native homeland. She asked the crowd to remember the great debt the country owes to its veterans.
Organizations like the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion will continue to honor the veterans and their families every day.
Last year, the American Legion Auxiliary volunteered millions of hours and raised and spent over $17 million for veterans and their families. But the organization still needs volunteers to help with its efforts, Huseman said.
Huseman spoke about a display she put together that featured a collection of poppies and posters from World War II. The display had memorabilia from other wars and conflicts as well as from 9/11.
This Veterans Day was sad for Huseman because several veterans she knows well were too ill to attend the service.
Ann Tabor, from Ladies Auxiliary Alfred Pepin Post #798, whose family members served their country, said it was an honor to stand on the platform during yesterday’s program. She said it is wonderful to see a growing interest in patriotism in the country.
Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, was for the Americans who scarified their lives during World War I. Now we honor veterans who served in any war.
Rep. Lynn Batchelor of Derby thanked all the veterans who served, are serving, and those who are willing to serve.
“Today we honor every man and every woman who proudly wore the uniform and bravely defended our nation while protecting its people from the evils of this world,” said Roy Ellam, Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Alfred Pepin Post #798. “Every American – no matter where they live or what they do – reaps the benefit of their service.”
Veterans answered the call to protect the values and virtues they cherish, Ellam said.
“Today is a big day in the hearts of our veterans,” said Mark Perry of the VFW Alfred Pepin Post #798 Men’s Auxiliary. For years, the country has men and women who served the nation. Because of them, Americans are free and safe. “How do we repay the debt we owe? It seems so small a payment when we say thank you and shake their hand.”
Col. Keith Worchester, from the North Country Union High School JROTC program, thanked all veterans for their service.
Service to the country and service to one another was the common themes among yesterday’s speakers, Rep. Mike Marcotte of Coventry said. All Americans are called to serve in one way or another.
“It amazes me that we have such wonderful people that live in this country, that live here in our community,” said Marcotte. “We should never forget the sacrifices that they make on our behalf.”
Sen. Robert Starr of North Troy had high praise for the local veterans’ organizations. He also said many of the older veterans are passing away. It’s important to politicians to help veterans with everything, not just medical care, Starr said.
Master of Ceremonies Merrick Labor acknowledged veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as veterans from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Members of the North Country Union Junior High School Band and the Newport Community Band and Orchestra provided patriotic pieces. Members of the North Country JROTC provided the color guard and honor guard. Gerry Gamache, Chaplin for American Legion Newport Post #21, said the opening and closing prayers. The VFW Post held an open house after the program.