PARIS — First responders who are military veterans were a special focus of the Veterans Day ceremony Monday morning at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

“This year’s Veterans Day program features a special salute to area veterans who continued that selfless dedication to preserve and protect our community as first responders,” said Sarah Glynn, Americanism officer for Foster-Carroll Post 72 of the American Legion in Paris, which sponsored the ceremony.

One of those first responders, Paris Police Chief Hartley “Skip” Mowatt, was the featured veteran.

Mowatt, who served in the Army as a sergeant first class, told the audience to “remember the service these people in front of you gave. Remember the time, the hours away from home to defend our country. Then they come back here and put in more hours, whether it’s on fire departments, police departments or with ambulance services.”

He pointed out George Brown, a veteran with the U.S. Army from 1950-53, who has served with the Paris Fire Department for more than 50 years.

“George is 85 years old and he’s still out at the scene of accidents, directing traffic,” Mowatt said. “He does what he can. He’s 85 and still answers the call.”

Mowatt also recognized one of his friends, Dave Ramsey, who mowed the lawn at his house while he was on active duty.

“Nobody asked him to do it, but he did it just the same,” Mowatt said.

State Sen. Jim Hamper, R-Oxford, said in thinking about his comments for the Veterans Day service, “I was struck by a quote from Elmer Davis, a news reporter during World War II: ‘This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.’ It takes a certain kind of person to serve one’s country. It doesn’t pay much, the hours aren’t great, and you spend time away from your family. Who would want to sign up for that? The simple answer: the brave.”

Hamper asked, “Who would we be without these people, those who put community above themselves? Certainly not the land of the free.”

State Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, said that without veterans, “we would not have been standing in line to vote last Tuesday. We would not be able to go to our local coffee shops and share our thoughts with our friends and neighbors.”

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin shared their tributes.

The high school band performed the national anthem, while the Boy Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance. Low Commotion Quartet performed a medley of armed forces salutes and the navy hymn, with Jo-Ellen Carter singing during the latter.

The Rev. John Williams gave the invocation and benediction.

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Ben Tucker, left, speaks on behalf of U.S. Sen. Angus King at the Veterans Day ceremony Monday morning at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris. Sarah Glynn, Americanism officer for Foster-Carroll Post 72 of the American Legion, applauds. (Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal)


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