Derry ceremony recognizes locals' sacrifices for military
The American Legion Post 9 Honor Guard stands at attention during Derry's annual Veterans Day ceremony at MacGregor Park. (ADAM SWIFT PHOTO)
DERRY - The local American Legion and VFW posts honored veterans at a solemn service at MacGregor Park on Sunday morning.
From neighbors to firemen to the owner of the local grocery store, 26 million living Americans served in the military, said Carl Starosciak, commander of VFW Post 1617. While some of those veterans are remembered as heroes, "most were just ordinary citizens who answered the call when it came," Starosciak said. "We are grateful for every one and appreciate your sacrifice."
Dot Mattson, VFW Ladies Auxiliary District 7 president, spoke of her first memories of seeing her uncles in uniform, who were then followed by her two brothers, one serving in the Navy and the other in the Marines.
She said when veterans come home from serving the country, they are not the same.
"They go away as little boys, and come back as old men," Mattson said.
She also spoke of visiting Walter Reed Army Medical Center where she was "reunited with a little redhead I had not seen since he was 6 or 7."
That little redhead, David Taylor, was now a veteran who lost his leg during his service in Afghanistan.
Taylor also spoke during the ceremony, thanking the VFW and the American Legion for all its members have done to help him and other younger veterans who have returned from wars overseas.
"As Dot mentioned, she came to Walter Reed, as my mother did, and got an experience she wasn't expecting," said the Purple Heart recipient.
Taylor said he looks forward to returning to Derry as so many locals had done so much for him and his family. He also noted that his two brothers, Dean and Danny, are still serving overseas.
Mattson reminded the audience that Veterans Day is a day to thank and remember all those Americans who have served in the military.
"What better way to honor our dead than to honor our living veterans," she said.
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