FARMINGTON — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on Tuesday credited America’s military veterans with preserving the constitutional freedom to vote.

Speaking at a Veterans Day ceremony at Wal-Mart, she said about 60 percent of registered Maine voters cast ballots last week without fear or intimidation, thanks to the efforts of the approximately 136,000 veterans in Maine, and others across the nation who have served or are serving.

Andy Buckland of Farmington, newly elected state representative for House District 113, defined a veteran as someone who writes a blank check payable to the United States when they join the military.

A large metal check created by Signworks sat to the side of the podium. It was created by American Legion Post 28 for services and parades, member Peter Tracy said.

He said military personnel are like firefighters — they are ready to serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Lincoln “Link” Grush of Jay, who flew with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, recounted a 70-year reunion of his troop in 2012 in South Carolina.

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Navy veteran Fred O. Smith of Farmington recalled serving on the USS The Sullivans, which is named for five brothers who served on the USS Juno. The USS Juno was sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 13, 1942. About 700 men were killed, including all five Sullivan brothers.

State Rep. Sheryl Briggs, D-Mexico, paid tribute to Vietnam War veterans and said Veterans Day is a time for healing for those who were not honored when they returned home. It’s a day to thank them and welcome them home, she said.

Briggs sponsored a bill in the 125th Maine Legislature to make March 30 Vietnam War Remembrance Day. She said she plans to continue the effort to make it a national remembrance day.

Also Tuesday, officials placed wreaths at the World War I Memorial on Main Street and at the Honor Roll and Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Meetinghouse Park.

State Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, was emcee at the ceremony at Wal-Mart on Wilton Road. He thanked manager Greg Patterson and employee Peter Zanoni, who organized the annual event.

The Franklin County Fiddlers provided musical entertainment and the Emblem Club demonstrated folding a flag.

Maine State Police Trooper Reid Bond introduced his explosives-sniffing dog, Sting. The 15-month-old Belgian Malinois sniffed something hidden by Bond on one person. When the dog detects something he sits and is rewarded with a toy, Bond said.

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