Veterans Day Marks Time To Give Thanks
For Those Fighting Overseas
By Steve Jusseaume & Terrill Covey
Hampton Union, Friday, November 14, 2003
[Seacoastonline photo by Sarah Zenewicz]
HAMPTON - Veterans were remembered this week as more than 100 people attended ceremonies throughout the greater Hampton area on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
On a cold, raw morning under steel gray skies, Hampton's American Legion Post 35, under the command of Ralph Fatello, sponsored the services, first at the New Hampshire Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach, then at Weare's Common in Hampton Falls, followed by the North Hampton Public Library and then the High Street Cemetery in Hampton where a wreath was laid at the base of the flagpole in the "Memorial Plot."
The Rotary Club took time out from its regular Tuesday morning breakfast at the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel to attend the services at the Marine Memorial. The Winnacunnet High School Junior ROTC provided the color guard at all four services.
"We are here to commemorate the service of the veterans of all wars," Fatello said at each venue.
"We are at war, my friends. Men and women are dying right now all over the world. Let us remember them and honor them."
Following Fatello's opening comments, Chris Elliot played the national anthem, the Rev. Garrett Lear offered a prayer and guest speaker Skip Sullivan spoke of those veterans who served their country and asked little in return.
In introducing Sullivan, a Coast Guard veteran, former firefighter and current Hampton selectman, Fatello noted the Coast Guard's "pivotal role" in protecting the United States against terrorist attacks, as well as the role of firefighters in protecting the country.
"Our guest speaker today is well-versed in this fight," Fatello said.
"When I looked outside this morning, I wished it was warmer out," said Sullivan, who served in the Coast Guard from 1964 to 1968 in the First Coast Guard District, Search and Rescue, as an E-6 boatswain's mate first class.. "Then I admonished myself for thinking that way, because I'm sure that in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq it was also cold last night.
"Today, Nov. 11, I believe it is fitting that we recognize and honor not only the men and women who went off to fight, but their families that also put their lives on hold when their country called upon their loved ones to pick up a weapon and take part in a war," Sullivan said.
Sullivan also served as fire chief in Claremont and Hampton, and in Bedford, Mass.
Sullivan spoke of the innocent teenager right out of high school, the grocery clerk, the college student "who said goodbye ... went off to fight, saw the worst of the worst in human suffering and came back a man."
Closing, Sullivan quoted from an unknown author: "It was the veteran, not the preacher, that guarantees you the freedom of religion. It was the veteran, not the reporter, that guarantees you the freedom of the press.
"It was the veteran, not the poet, that guarantees you freedom of speech, it was the veteran, not the campus organizer, that guarantees you the right to assemble.
"It was the veteran, not the lawyer, that guarantees you the right to a fair trial. It was the veteran, not the politician, that gives us the right to vote."
After the ceremony, Fatello said he was pleased so many people attended the day's events, including some 35 in Hampton Falls.
"It's good that so many people are interested in these events now," Fatello said. "We are fighting a new kind of war, one unlike any other. And it is a good thing, to me, that we can fight this war on terrorism on foreign soil, rather than here at home. Our young men and women are giving all they have, and in some cases, dying over there to protect us. And God bless them for doing it."
He said that he is disappointed when people speak negatively about the war.
"September 11 wasn't that long ago," he said. "People need to remember that, and be glad that we are fighting this war on foreign land, rather than here in our own land."
Sullivan said that he was honored to be a part of the ceremony because of the importance of the holiday.
"It's an honor to be among these other veterans," he said. "It's nice to see good turnouts like this, too. I think people feel a little closer to the military during times like this. They become more patriotic or civic-minded and seem to rally together. I just hope programs like this remind us all to never forget those who gave up everything to protect us."
26.4 millionThe number of military veterans in the United States; this is a ratio of about 1in-8 (or 13%) of U.S. civilians 18 and over.
1.6 million.The number of veterans who are women.
9.7 millionThe number of veterans who are age 65 or over.
57.4Median age of the nation's veterans.
2.6 millionThe number of black veterans. Additionally, 1.1 million are Hispanic, 284,000 are Asian, and 196,000 are American Indian or Alaska native.
(The numbers for blacks, Asians, and American Indians, or Alaska natives cover only those reporting a single race.)
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]