Kirk Thurston, state commander of the American Legion and a member of Napoleon Ouellette American Legion Post 24 in Rumford, addresses the public Monday during a Memorial Day ceremony in Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The state commander of the American Legion spoke to a crowd at Monday’s Memorial Day services honoring those who died in service to the country.

“This is a day we pay homage to those who President Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, called ‘these honored dead,'” said Kirk Thurston.

Rumford residents William Scott and his sister, Juliet Scott, wave American flags Monday while riding in the Memorial Day parade through Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

“While many of us now consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of the summer season, the original intent on the occasion was a much more somber and honor-focused meaning,” he said.

The federal holiday was formalized as a way of remembering and mourning the members of the U.S. military who died in service, and is marked by visiting cemeteries and decorating headstones of fallen soldiers with flags and wreaths.

These fallen soldiers, Thurston said, were people who were brothers, husbands, mothers, sisters and friends.

“These were people woven into the fabric of communities across the nation,” said Thurston, a member of Napoleon Ouellette Post 24 in Rumford. “They were loved. They were mourned. And they are missed.”


Thurston said Memorial Day is a chance to “reconnect to the genesis of our nation’s numerous freedoms. It’s an important day in which we ground ourselves to the reality that every Gold Star Family knows — our way of life has been shaped and made possible by those who have served and by those we have lost.”

Vivian Courtway, 3, of Peru, and Amberlin Azcona, 6, of Rumford, right, watch Monday from their float in the Memorial Day parade in Rumford, while firefighter Sam Cote drives past in a Rumford fire engine. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

The commander also mentioned the newly opened VA Clinic in Rumford, saying, “They’re looking for volunteers.”

“Please find ways you can reach out and engage and be part of the effort to care for those who served,” he said. “Working together with friends, neighbors, veterans groups and entire communities, we can ensure that the sacrifices made by our nation’s finest and bravest never go unappreciated and their memories are never forgotten.”

He listed ways people can keep the injured and the ill in mind throughout the year.

Organizations such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans and American Veterans offer countless ways to give back to those who have endured the physical, psychological and emotional wounds of war, he said.

Other opportunities, he said, are:


• Driving a veteran to a medical appointment.

• Befriending a veteran who lives alone or in a nursing home facility.

• Reaching out to a veteran who has just left military service.

The parade, which started in Rumford, proceeded to the Memorial Green in Mexico for a brief ceremony and laying of a wreath.

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