Veterans Are 'Fiber of the Word Freedom'

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Dozens Turn Out to Honor Military Members

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Friday, November 14, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Maj. Michael Petruzziello, a U.S. Marine veteran and the Winnacunnet High School U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC instructor, speaks on behalf of all veterans at the American Legion Post 35 Veterans Day observance in Hampton on Tuesday.
[John Carden Photo]

HAMPTON -- Veterans are the "fiber of the word freedom," said American Legion Post 35 Chaplain John Holman. "Today is for remembering. We're standing in honor of them."

Holman stood on the porch of the Hampton post, on a bright, windy Nov. 11 Tuesday. A crowd of 50, including many veterans, turned out for the ceremony begun by Post Commander Ralph Fatello exactly at 11 a.m.

Veterans Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the Armistice of World War I in 1918, when major hostilities ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Ninety years later, all veterans from World War II to the present were honored for their service.

"Today we pay tribute to the living and breathing veterans," said Fatello. "... A sound or smell may trigger a memory, but for the most part, their sacrifice is behind them. They are not the heroes. They will tell you the real heroes are the ones who didn't make it back."

Fatello recognized veterans of all branches of the military, including first responders, police and firefighters.

Maj. Mike Petruzziello, of Hampton, who served in the Marine Corps from 1975 to 1999, was guest speaker. Petruzziello teaches Junior ROTC at Winnacunnet High School.

"Americans have been hearing about change for the last two years," said Petruzziello, referring to the presidential campaign. Veterans have done more than talk about it, he said.

"They've invested their very lives. I believe those who choose to serve are modern-day patriots," he said.

Recently, bailouts and rescue packages have been in the forefront of the news, Petruzziello said.

Veterans' "parachutes certainly weren't golden," he said. "There is no price on their sacrifices. The amazing thing to me about veterans is they think they never did enough or ask, could I have done more?"

The veterans and all assembled saluted the fallen, the rifle squad fired three rounds, and taps was played by Mark Weatherby of Hampton.

His niece, Elaine Weatherby, 12, of Hampton, had earlier sung the national anthem as the Color Guard presented arms.

Fatello presented Holman, who is retiring this year as chaplain, with a certificate of appreciation for lifetime achievement.

As was true last year, the Veterans Day observance was held at the Global War on Terrorism monument in front of the legion. Former ceremonies were held in the High Street Cemetery. The monument holds the names of New Hampshire servicemen who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Hampton firefighter Jason Newman said he was there that day to "appreciate everybody's time in the service."

"Patriotism," said John Sangenario of Hampton, when asked why he had come to the ceremony.

"We all support our troops," said Betty Callanan of Hampton.

"I always come," said Marguerite Connors. Her late husband, Daniel, served in World War II, as did her two brothers. Her two sons also served in the military.

Rae Schwotzer of Hampton said, "I just think it's a wonderful thing to come to and share. It just makes you feel good to participate."

Post 35 also held Veterans Day observances at 8 a.m. at the Marine Memorial in Hampton Beach; at 9 a.m. at Weare Park in Hampton Falls; and at 10 a.m. at the North Hampton Public Library.

Elaine Weatherby sings "The Star Spangled Banner" at the American Legion Post 35 Veterans Day observance in Hampton on Tuesday. Weatherby, a seventh-grader at Hampton Academy, has been singing for Post 35 ceremonies for many years. Both her father, David, and uncle, Mark Weatherby, are post members.
[John Carden Photo]
Veterans are honored with a salute during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the American Legion Post 35 Veterans Day observance in Hampton on Tuesday.
[John Carden Photo]
Heads are bowed while taps is played to honor the fallen at the American Legion Post 35 Veterans Day observance in Hampton on Tuesday.
[John Carden Photo]