BOSCAWEN — Patriots past and present were honored and remembered during Veterans Day observances Monday at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery.
“Today we pause to honor a tiny sliver of our population, those men and women from generation to generation who chose to serve in the military to defend our way of life,” said Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities, New Hampshire’s Adjutant General.
“Veterans Day is for them and their families. It is also a stark reminder for those young men and women who are about to make that choice. That pursuit alone is the most noble and dignified of professions a citizen can aspire to.”
Gov. Chris Sununu said this past weekend he was invited to the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla. He learned about the original Underwater Demolition Teams sent to Normandy just before D-Day to clear the beaches of obstacles to the landing, each man armed solely with a knife.
“The fact that they knew that 60 percent of them would not be coming back, as young as 17 years old, and they went because they knew how important it was,” Sununu said. “It wasn’t about them at this time, it wasn’t even about just this country, it was about this world and at such a young age they understood that. It was an incredibly awesome responsibility that they took on.”
Chris Peirce, commander for the Department of New Hampshire Veterans of Foreign Wars, also addressed the crowd.
“It is a special time to reflect and honor those who answered their nation’s call. Today is their day to stand tall and be recognized by a grateful nation,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, not only offered her thanks to the hundreds of veterans in the audience but to their families “who have also served and sacrificed in so many ways.”
“This cemetery is the final resting place of heroes who served in conflicts as far back as World War I. Today, we have gathered to salute those heroes and all the members of the armed forces and their families. All of those who have served since the Revolutionary War, an unbroken chain of sacrifice. This is the defining characteristic of our nation’s veterans. The willingness to give everything and make any sacrifice for the safety and security of our nation.”
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan said members of the military “courageously fought to defend the concept of freedom that defines the United States of America.”
“Throughout my time in public office it has been my honor to meet with so many of you and hear your stories of valor and service. Service that has spanned across generations, across nations, across battlefields. Service that has been given throughout our history. On behalf of every single one of us so that we could all live lives safe, secure and free.”
Rep. Annie McLane Kuster said in June she and fellow Democrat Hassan had the chance to travel to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion.
“It was a very special and deeply poignant visit for me,” Kuster said, recounting that her father had survived piloting a plane above the beaches during the first wave of the D-Day invasion.
Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, said the nation owes its veterans a tremendous debt.
“Today the resting place of 9,000 veterans and their family members interred on this hallowed ground renew our commitment to continue to pay down the great debt that we all owe to our service members,” he said.