Flags will be hung and illuminated

at night until all U.S. troops have come home.

LIVERMORE FALLS – Young and old turned out Sunday evening for a ceremony to support those in the military and just released prisoners of war.

Heads were bowed in prayer and voices were raised in patriotic songs. An honor guard of veterans carried flags that fluttered in the breeze near the shore of the Androscoggin River.

Members of the Tri-town Ministerial Ecumenical Choir led people in the Pledge of Allegiance then sang songs of patriotism including the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.”

Yellow ribbons, along with red, white and blue banners, accented the gazebo.

A line of military flags hung from the gazebo’s ceiling, bracketed by the black and white Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag at one end and the U.S. flag at the other. In between were the banners of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army.

The flags will be illuminated at night and kept waving until troops come home.

Lists of soldiers’ names from East Dixfield, Fayette, Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls and Wilton hung from two sides of the structure’s railing.

America’s men and women are all around the world protecting freedom, said Don Simoneau of Fayette, a representative of the George Bunten Post 10 American Legion in Livermore Falls.

The yellow ribbons represent support and care for “our troops,” Simoneau said; the red, white and blue ribbons show “our support for our nation.”

Simoneau called on the 100-plus people gathered to do their part in supporting the troops.

Put up yellow ribbons at home, post messages to service people on the Internet, take a moment to say a prayer or donate blood, he urged.

John Dube, a member of the POW/MIA Committee, said, “Welcome home, Jessica Lynch,” a former POW who was rescued following an ambush in Iraq. He also praised the release of seven more POWs Sunday, including five who had been ambushed with Lynch.

Simoneau told those gathered about the creation of an Avenue of Flags to run from Jay High School to Livermore Falls High School. Flags symbolizing the service of young graduates of the high schools now on active duty will be put up on utility poles. A crew had already put up some yellow ribbons on poles in the two towns.

As of Sunday evening, organizers had already raised $2,400 of the $3,200 needed to buy U.S. flags and brackets to put on the poles. Simoneau said the group would need help in putting up the flags and raising additional money.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “We need your assistance.”

The American Legion hosts a support talk group Sunday evenings for anyone who wants to attend. Both military and clergy counselors are also available for support.

“We need to continue to show young men and woman working hard to support our freedom that we in Livermore Falls care,” Simoneau said.

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