Patriotic Remembrances

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, June 1, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]

SEACOAST -- It was a Memorial Day of which Gen. John A. Logan would have heartily approved.

This year's well-attended ceremonies, conducted by American Legion Post #35, saw plenty of American flags, color guards, hometown Veterans, respectful crowds and a generous amount of patriotic spirit blended with a sense of solemnity, remembrance and pride.

As is custom, Memorial Day exercises were conducted one hour apart at the Marine Memorial statue at Hampton Beach; on the town common in Hampton Falls; in front of the town office building in North Hampton; and in the High Street Cemetery in Hampton.

Parades in the latter two towns preceded the ceremonies, with school bands, state and town officials, emergency responders, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts taking part.

Ministers from local churches offered prayers at their town's remembrances, and members of Faith Community Church in Hampton carried banners that read "Freedom" and "Greater love has no one, than this, that he lay his life down for his friend." A woman at the Hampton ceremony held up a poster with the words "Thank You" written in a stars-and-stripes pattern of red, white and blue.

Post #35 Commander, Ralph Fatello addressed the crowds at each ceremony. He began his remarks with the numbers: A total of 522,416 American war Veterans who have lost their lives in service to their country in the last 66 years, fighting to keep America free.

Fatello calculated the casualties since December 7, 1941: 405,399 in World War II; 54,245 in Korea; 58,209 in Vietnam; eight in Iran during the hostage crisis; 265 in Beirut, Lebanon; 19 in Grenada, 40 in Panama; 383 in the first Gulf War; 43 in Somalia, four in Haiti; and 3794 to date in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Fatello also acknowledged the 403 police and firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

That date, said Fatello, "changed all our lives forever," and Americans "were suddenly faced with the true horrors of war, up close and personal" in a battle that is "unlike any other war we have ever faced."

Fatello pointed out that "America is indeed still a force to be reckoned with," putting forth "the best and brightest of an all-voluntary military" rising to the call of their country to protect cherished freedoms.

One of the state's own warriors in the GWOT had been tapped as guest speaker at this year's Memorial Day observances. Fatello introduced Staff Sergeant Mark Deteso of the New Hampshire Army National Guard.

A combat Veteran stationed in Iraq from May 2005 through April 2006, Deteso served at forward operating bases in Ramadi and Fallujah.

"Military service has always been one of our country's most noble callings," SSGT Deteso told the crowds that gathered at the ceremonies. "America has always been a defender of liberty" and her military has always "gladly shouldered the burden" to serve "a cause worth fighting for." He acknowledged those who died "too young, too soon" had done so "for their country and their beliefs."

SSGT Deteso called the GWOT "one we did not seek but one we will decisively win." He noted that 63 years ago, as the United States was preparing to land on Normandy on June 6, 1944, Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told his troops that "the eyes of the world are upon you." Now, as America faces "another threat to democracy," said Deteso, "the eyes of the world are on us once again."

Concluding his remarks, Deteso honored those who believe America's freedoms are worth fighting for, who "sacrifice personal comfort, safety and ultimately, for some, their lives" in the name of duty, honor, country and for an ideal that's purely America.

The ceremonies concluded with a solemn bell toll in remembrance of those who died in military service since World War II, the laying of memorial wreaths, gun salutes by Post #35's rifle squad and the playing of "Taps."

Special music was provided by school students at the different events, and Post Chaplain John Holman offered a Memorial Day commentary written by General John A. Logan, entitled Special Order No. 11, 1848, during the ceremony at the High Street Cemetery.

The community support and involvement in this year's Memorial Day exercises elicited praise from Fatello, who gratefully thanked the crowds for taking part and told them, "It means so much to us."

Amy Strong playing "America the Beautiful"
[Photo by Cindy Strong]
The placing of the Wreath.
[Photo by Cindy Strong]
Chaplain John Holman reading
General Logan's Special Order #11, 1848.

[Photo by Cindy Strong]
Mark Weatherby playing taps at
conclusion of the Service.

[Photo by Cindy Strong]
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