'They helped the country so we could be free'
By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 27, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- While Interstate 95 south was jammed with travellers making their way home from the sunny Memorial Day weekend, local folks lined Route 1 to see a parade and to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
"I have a son who is getting out of Iraq today; he finished his tour today," said James Danahy, who watched the parade with his son Jack in front of their home on High Street.
Army Specialist Troy Danahy, who graduated in 2005 from Winnacunnet High School, has served 15 months in Iraq. Troy was under fire several times, said his father. He should be back home in Hampton on July 3.
"We're very proud of him," Danahy said.
"We come out every year," Kelly Leavitt said, "about seven years."
Leavitt lives in Portsmouth but grew up in Hampton. She brought her daughters, Kalahn, 5, and Kendra, 8. Her parents, Rosemary and Jim Emond of Seabrook, were also with her.
"'What did Mimi tell you?'" Rosemary Emond said to her grandchildren: "They helped the country so we could be free."
The parade of state and local officials, firefighters, police, the Winnacunnet High School band, Cub Scouts and Brownies, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and other community members marched from the old town hall on Winnacunnet Road, to Route 1 and east on High Street into the cemetery.
There, more than 300 people attended the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
"I'm happy to announce patriotism is alive and well in the Seacoast," said American Legion Post No. 35 Commander Ralph Fatello. "We've had record crowds today in Hampton, Hampton Falls and North Hampton."
Memorial Day services were held earlier on Monday at the beach and in those towns. Since World War II, Fatello said, 523,510 Americans have lost their lives in wars and conflicts.
Retired Capt. Suzanne Tetreault of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, became the first woman to serve as guest speaker in the 76-year history of Post No. 35's Memorial Day observances.
The Exeter resident served 32 years in the military and is now a nurse at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
Memorial Day means many things to many people, Tetreault said. Growing up, she saw it as a day to pay respect to family members who had died. She has since learned, she said, "It is a day to honor our nation's heroes."
Tetreault said she never understood why older relatives never wanted to talk about their war experience, she said.
"Now, I know why," said Tetreault, who has served two combat-related tours. She served in Kuwait in 2002 treating American and Coalition forces and again from March 2006 to April 2007, serving in civil affairs in Baghdad, Iraq.
"The experience is surreal, there's so much to say, no way to say it," she said. "We never forget. It is deeply rooted in our subconscious."
Tetreault lost several friends in Iraq, including Capt. Freeman, who she said wanted to help two Iraqi children get needed surgery. He was kidnapped and killed before he saw that take place, she said.
"To all the veterans living and departed, I thank you and salute you," Tetreault said.
The Winnacunnet band played the national anthem; eighth-grader Danielle Harrod, and sixth-grader Elaine Weatherby, of the Hampton Academy Girls Chorus, sang "God Bless America" and eighth-grader Amy Strong played "America the Beautiful" on saxophone.
The sergeant at arms was given the order, the wreath was placed, shots rang out, and taps played.
[Cheryl Senter photo]
[Cheryl Senter photo]