Salem heralds day-to-day support of its veterans
During a well-attended town ceremony, local Veterans Association President Douglas Micklon offered words of praise for those keeping memories of the fallen alive every day.
"As we drive around town, we've all seen those signs on black poles: the town squares named for Salem veterans who've passed on," Micklon said. "We thank you for keeping these places so beautiful."
In spring 2011, the fifth-graders at Fisk Elementary School made it their mission to "adopt" the plaque outside their school, honoring the late Pfc. Howard E. Spencer, who was killed while serving in the Pacific in 1954. Spencer was 30 years old.
With similar spots in town honoring other Salem heroes, Micklon said he was pleased when several businesses stepped forward to help beautify other memorial spots.
The Fisk students were honored Sunday, as were the staff of On Call International, Air Planning and Husson Motors. Staff from the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant was also recognized for hosting an annual luncheon for the town's veterans.
Serving as the morning's keynote speaker was retired Coast Guard Lt. Joseph Stafford. Stafford, a native of Concord who has called Salem home for many years, retired in 1996 after serving for two decades.
"Veterans Day is set aside to remember every man or woman who has taken up arms to defend this country," he said. "Over 25 million veterans walk among us and we salute them all."
While World War II ended 67 years ago, Stafford reminded the crowd that the war in the Middle East is still raging.
"We're still there, 11 years (after the attacks of Sept. 11), but we remain a free people thanks to the sacrifices our veterans have made," he said. "Military service demands a special kind of sacrifice. When you're in uniform, the interests of the nation must come first."
The ceremony included music by the Salem High School chorus, a POW/MIA ceremony with the Salem High School's junior ROTC members and a salute by members of the VFW Post 8546 Color Guard and Firing Squad.