Members of Napoleon Ouellette Post 24 of the American Legion in Rumford march to the veterans’ monuments at the Rumford Rotary and the Mexico Greens in Mexico to lay wreaths during Memorial Day ceremonies Monday. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The sacrifices by military veterans in protecting freedom and by front line workers in protecting lives were lauded in a Memorial Day service recorded Monday at the local American Legion hall.

“This Memorial Day is different this year as so many things are,” Commander Tricia Thurston of Napoleon Ouellette Post 24 said via Facebook. “We’re unable to have a parade, bring in special guest speakers, or have you all join us here today.” However, it doesn’t mean Post 24 can’t continue “to honor all those who fought for our freedoms, gave the ultimate sacrifice for us here at home. It is our duty to continue our mission, to remember this today and everyday,” she said.

American Legion Post 24 Commander Tricia Thurston speaks at a recorded Memorial Day service at the hall in Rumford on Monday. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Thurston said every crisis has new heroes.

“During the 9-11 attacks, they were the first responders running into burning buildings as others ran out,” she said. “Now during the coronavirus pandemic, the most visible heroes are the health care professionals who are saving others and risking their own lives while doing so.”

During World War I, the flu killed nearly 16,000 U.S. soldiers in France, she said, and another 30,000 American service members died in stateside camps.

“These men and women could have isolated safely in their homes, but they knew they had an important job to do,” Thurston said. “They were all on a mission to serve.”

“Even when the enemy is an invisible virus or a microscopic germ, the sacrifices made are just as meaningful,” she said. “The U.S. military has also lost service members to COVID-19.”

She said the pain of loss, at times, is unbearable.

“Grief is a complicated emotion, showing up in many ways for each of us,” she said. “But it helps most to share that grief rather than keep it inside. Call or email, or reach out online. However you choose to do it, keep connecting. ”

The ceremony also included posting the colors, laying wreaths and singing the national anthem by Damien Nadeau of Dixfield.

American Legion Post 24 2nd Vice Commander Jack Blanchard, left, and 1st Vice Commander Ed Perry lay a wreath at the veterans’ monument in Rumford on Monday. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Readings included the meaning of Memorial Day by 1st Vice Commander Ed Perry; “Freedom is not Free” recited by Legionnaire and Chaplain Joy Bordeau; and “In Flanders Fields” read by auxiliary member Valerie Scott.

Following the ceremony, eight American Legion members marched to the veterans’ monument at the Rumford Rotary and the monument at the Mexico Greens in Mexico where wreaths were laid by Perry and 2nd Vice Commander Jack Blanchard.

The ceremony can be viewed over Facebook at “American Legion Post 24 Rumford Maine.”

 

 

Members of Napoleon Ouellette Post 24 of the American Legion in Rumford lay a wreath at the veterans memorial during a Memorial Day service on Monday. A similar ceremony was held at the Mexico Greens in Mexico. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

 


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