RUMFORD — While every war has its own unique problems, one thing is common among all — ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.

That was the message by Vietnam veteran Joseph Roberts, the featured speaker at Wednesday morning’s Veterans Day ceremony.

“Rich, poor, black, white, men and women — some veterans have endured great hardships, all have sacrificed something so we all could enjoy the freedoms we have today,” he said.

Roberts spoke before a crowd of at least 300 people, more than most Veterans Day ceremonies in recent years.

Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, at least 80 veterans and auxiliary members, a couple of dozen Interact teenagers from the local Rotary club, and scores of people of all ages attended the hour-long ceremony in the Mountain Valley High School auditorium.

Young people from the Sundown Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol carried the flags and assisted with the “Missing Man” ceremony, which symbolizes soldiers still missing in action.

Rumford American Legion Commander Kirk Thurston believes the unusually high attendance could be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Roberts, who served in the Air Force from 1971 to 1976, said soldiers have battled communism, imperialism, fascism and terrorism.

“Today is important. We choose to honor the living veterans from the greatest generation to the latest generation. It is the veterans who gave us this extraordinary country,” he said.

The Mountain Valley High School Band played the theme songs for each branch of the military, while the 25-voice Rumford Association for the Advancement of the Performing Arts sang songs of peace along with several patriotic songs.

Legionnaires Greg Ryder and Marvin Bickford performed the folding flag ceremony while Thurston described the meaning of each fold.

Local businessman Ron Theriault served as host for the annual event. He spoke of the 20th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall and of the soldiers who fought from the American Revolution to the current wars in the Middle East.

“If you know someone serving overseas, write to them. If you don’t know anyone, contact the United Service Organization,” he said. “If you are a vet, you are living history. Before you pass away, share your experience with your children and grandchildren. We need to better understand your sacrifice.”

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Veterans Harvey Manson, Chummy Broomhall and Felix Ricci salute during the singing of the national anthem at the  Veterans Day ceremony at Mountain Valley High School on Wednesday. More than 300 people attended, more than most ceremonies held in recent years.

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