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Candia Veterans Day ceremony has simple message: Remember

In a somber ceremony in front of the town's Civil War Memorial, Candia veterans and family honored the lost and celebrated their veterans, urging attendees above all to "remember."

"Let us not forget we cannot rightfully celebrate the joy of our freedoms without the remembering the great price they paid," said Joe Duarte, a town selectman and state representative.

The heaviest presence at the ceremony, however, was that of the lost, and the profound absence felt by those present.

"I know many of you have visited the Vietnam Memorial, the black wall with all those endless names; 58,273 of them. That makes me sad," said Duarte. "I'm saddened when I reflect on the dreams, of all those artists, builders, engineers, musicians, inventors, and so many more. We will not know those talents that America lost."

Others spoke to this loss and the broader impact of war in another way: speaking to the sacrifice and struggle of those left behind at home, and those who wait and hope still for their loved ones' return.

"The fighting forces begin at the fireside, and in the hometown," said Priscilla Wentworth, president of the Auxiliary for American Legion Post 91. "The repercussions of war's terrible brutality have chilled the heart and dim the hopes and dreams of many a loved one left behind on the home front. While the horrors of the battlefield may not have been our experience, we have lived with the terrifying loneliness created to answer an aggressive challenge."

In the face of loss and sacrifice, the speakers were unified in their response: gratitude.

"I ask you when you come upon a veteran to think a minute, to take a minute to walk over, say hello and smile, and thank them for their service," said Duarte. "I think they too will smile back and thank you for remembering."

The American Legion's ceremony began at 11 a.m., in observance of the armistice which ended major hostilities in World War I on 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Duarte and Wentworth gave remarks, with Post 91 Commander Tom Hayes conducting the ceremony. Honor Guard Ray Cresswell performed a one-gun salute which closed the ceremony.

bclogston@newstote.com

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