FARMINGTON — For many, Memorial Day is the official start of summer but on Monday, May 29, veterans and their families took time to honor the true meaning of the day and those who never made it home from serving their country.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 546 and Cub Scout Pack 585 make their way towards the Teague World War I Memorial Arch Monday morning, May 29, at the first of several Memorial Day recognitions in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Ceremonies organized by Roderick-Crosby American Legion Post 28 began at the Teague World War I Memorial Arch. Chaplain Langdon Adams referred to that war as “the war to end all wars” and gave prayers for those who served with valor and sacrificed all.

“This monument was commissioned 99 years ago by the generosity of a Civil War veteran who wanted to honor the brave Franklin County men who perished during the first world war,” Commander Stephan Bunker noted. “Mr. Teague died prior to the unveiling of this arch in 1924 yet his legacy endures.

“Next year we will honor the 100th anniversary of the Teague World War I Memorial Arch with the respect and dignity it deserves. For this arch is more than polished stone. It is a symbol of sacrifice and a hope bestowed by Mt. Teague for everlasting peace.”

Police Chief Kenneth Charles speaks about what Memorial Day means for him Monday morning, May 29, at the Teague World War I Memorial Arch in Farmington. Also seen from left are Langdon Adams, American Legion Post 28 chaplain, Paul Harnden of Jay and auxiliary members Jane Wilcox and Rita Smith. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Memorial Day has meant a number of things for Farmington Police Chief Kenneth Charles. He remembered placing flowers at family plots at a young age, even though why was unclear to him at the time. As a teenager, for him it was another day off from school.

With several relatives who served in the armed forces, Charles said he always felt drawn to military service. It was during his own service in the United States Army that he began to understand what service and sacrifice really meant.


While in the Maine Army National Guard, Charles was deployed to Kuwait and later Iraq where he was a flight medic on last resort medical responses.

“Twenty years ago today was like the steady string of days and nights in that sweltering and sandy existence,” Charles said. “My crew and I received a nine-line medical evacuation request. This particular mission resulted in four casualties – one with minor injuries, one with extensive injuries, one deceased at the scene and the last died of his injuries shortly after arriving at the field hospital.

“It was on this day that I finally and deeply understood the meaning of Memorial Day when I swore to myself that I would remember the names and faces of those for whom I would not be able to save or support.”

On that Memorial Day 20 years ago, 18-year old specialist Kenneth Nalley of Hamburg, Iowa, and 30-year old [one day before his 31st birthday] Staff Sgt. Brett Petriken of Flint, Michigan, died while escorting a convoy in Iraq, Charles stated.

Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of county, service and sacrifice for the common good while Memorial Day is a day of reflection for those who died while serving in the armed forces, Charles added.

A wreath was placed in front of the arch and taps was played, after which everyone proceeded to Meetinghouse Park where Bunker spoke and wreaths were placed at several of the monuments there. Later, a wreath was placed at the American Legion post on Middle Street.


“We do not forget,” Bunker told those in the park. “Whether it’s an hour ago or a century ago, we remember.”

American Legion Post 28 Adjutant Andrew Goodridge holds the microphone while Commander Stephan Bunker speaks Monday morning, May 29, in Meetinghouse Park in Farmington. Afterwards, area scouts placed wreaths at monuments in the park. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Bunker spoke of a flaw that did not permit Coast Guard veterans to receive Purple Hearts for action occurring before World War II. Now corrected, the Coast Guard continues to identify families whose ancestors haven’t received the medals they earned, he noted.

“It is just another example of our country honoring all of our fallen heroes, regardless of how many decades or centuries have passed,” Bunker stated. “We are here today for heroes … people who have given all that they can give so that others can enjoy freedom.

“The men and women who died for our freedom represent the diverse patchwork that is the United States of America. Their one common characteristic is that they all took an oath to die for America if called upon.”

“We can ensure that the memories of these fallen heroes and their sacrifices are not in vain,” Bunker continued. “We can ensure that future generations understand the importance of service, sacrifice and honor. We can ensure through our own community service that our country remains strong, free and prosperous.”

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