LEWISTON – The public address system wasn’t working, a cold wind was blowing across Veterans Memorial Park and a large crowd waited patiently for the Sunday afternoon Veterans Day program to begin.

“I want you to take time to think of a veteran,” shouted Willie Danforth, chairman of the Lewiston and Auburn Veterans Council. He told people to think of soldiers who endured desert heat in Iraq or a frigid battlefield in Korea.

“They stood out in the heat and the cold. They’re doing it now,” he said. “I just wanted you to realize that, and I honor everyone who’s here today.”

The occasion was the unveiling of a 14th memorial stone in a Veterans Day Observance organized by the Lewiston and Auburn Veterans Council.

Speeches were brief and the crowd quickly gathered around the tall granite stone with the latest additions to more than 3,000 area veterans’ names.

Friends and family members took photos of names on the stone, including five members of the Daigle family – Normand G. Daigle, U.S. Army in World War II; as well as Robert R.; Donald; Stanley; and John R., who were in the U.S. Army, Marines and Air Force from the Korean War through peacetime.

Danforth also presided at a musical tribute to veterans held before noon at the Lewiston Armory. The program, also organized by the Lewiston and Auburn Veterans Council, featured selections by the “Just Us” vocal entertainers.

Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert, a Vietnam veteran, reminded the audience at the armory that appreciation should be expressed to veterans every day.

“We need not have ceremonies as a reason to stop by Veterans Memorial Park,” he said. He urged people to visit and to sit on the memorial benches there “to quietly reflect on the services of these men and women, but also to pray for the safety of those now serving.”

Auburn Mayor John Jenkins emphasized the importance of faith and the significance that small groups of citizens, such as America’s forefathers, have had in changing the world.

He also urged the audience not to forget the plight of thousands of veterans who are homeless.

In his remarks, U.S. Rep. Michael H. Michaud, a Democrat, held up a copy of a thank-you-to-veterans card that had been produced by Auburn Middle School students and passed out at the armory.

“I want to thank those students,” he said. “It’s extremely important that we take the time to talk with the younger generation” about the accomplishments of veterans, he told the crowd.

A statement from U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, a Republican, was read. State Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, spoke at the armory and state Rep. Elaine Makas, D-Lewiston, addressed the crowd at the park. The mayors of the two cities spoke at both the armory and the park events.

Several color guard units passed in review before a group of veterans in front of the armory stage, and many family groups watched from the balcony.

Representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard marched past as each service’s song was sung by the entertainers. A contingent of uniformed members of Lewiston High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC and members of the Knights of Columbus color guard marched, as well as members of James Longley/Normand Dionne Post 9150 and Capt. Frank W. Hulett Post 1603, both posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Post 31 of the Franco-American War Veterans, the Marine Corps League; and Boy Scout Troop 153 of New Auburn.

The combined bands of Edward Little and Lewiston high schools also performed.

Earlier Sunday, Lewiston Regional Technical Center culinary arts students from the Green Ladle served a complimentary breakfast to about 100 veterans and family members at Lewiston High School cafeteria.

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