LEWISTON— Area veterans and their families celebrated Memorial Day early with a Saturday ceremony held by the L&A Veterans Council at the Veterans Memorial Park.

Veterans, their families and patriots alike appeared unanimous in their conclusions about Memorial Day: honoring the memories of the fallen is what the day is all about. For many of those who served alongside the fallen or paid the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one, Memorial Day is but just one day of reflection.

“It really does make you remember all those who have passed away and it makes you feel contented, grateful, that we made it through,” said Cliff Plourde of Detachment 810 Marine Corps League of Central Maine. “You’ve got to remember – you can’t forget and we will never forget while we’re still in the Marine Corps. Because once one, always one.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden shared their appreciation of veterans who have passed. Staffer Karen Staples read through tears the message from Collins’ office, that from the time of this country’s founding to the present day, freedom is the gift paid with the greatest price and those we have lost “have written the history of freedom” and inspired “new chapters of valor, devotion to duty and sacrifice.”

Golden staffer Kim Rohn conveyed his sentiments from the point of view of an armed forces veteran humbled by the bravery and sacrifice of men and women he served with in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“May we honor every patriot and keep them in our hearts, not just today, but every day,” read Rohn. “On this day, let us also remember and thank the families of the fallen. We must care for them as though they are our own.”


Other speakers included Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline; Staff Sgt. Phil Noe, commander of northern New England’s Space Force base, Royal Canadian Legion’s Kevin Michaud; and Auburn councilman Leroy Walker. Sheline shared the story of Vietnam draftee Thomas J. McMahon, a combat medic from Lewiston who died at 20 while saving the lives of fellow soldiers. McMahon was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously and he lies in Mount Hope Cemetery.

“(He) embodied the spirit of selflessness, willingly placing himself in harm’s way … while also protecting the principles we cherish and depend on as a nation,” Sheline said. “McMahon’s sacrifice is our freedom and today we honor him along with everyone who has died fighting for our country.”

The ceremony was capped with the dedication of an M60A3 tank which was recently added to the Veterans Memorial Park. The L&A Veterans Council also installed a time capsule which local veterans’ organizations were invited to add to.

Two Gold Star Mothers, Bethel Shields and Joyce Raymond, echoed the sentiments of the speakers and audience, that remembrance is what the day is always about.

Simply put, Shields said, “We’re honoring those who have not made it home …  and we’re proud.”

Raymond said it was a fourth grader, in a project through Wreaths Across America, that put Memorial Day into perspective for her: “For some, every day is Memorial Day.”

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