LEWISTON — “Say their names,” keynote speaker Adria Horn told the crowd gathered Saturday for the L&A Veterans Council Memorial Day observance. Horn encouraged family, friends and fellow service members ahead of Monday’s holiday to remember those who lost their lives while serving this nation.

During the warm spring morning, the Army Reserve lieutenant colonel spoke to dozens of people during the annual observance at Veterans Memorial Park about the importance of remembering those killed while serving.

While those close to the men and women who died think about them year-round, Memorial Day is a forced function necessary to enable people who have not lost anyone while serving to acknowledge those who died, Horn said.

“If you allow people to forget they will not be supported to remember,” she said.

Horn has traveled a lot outside of the state and attended military functions elsewhere, but is always struck by how many people attend events honoring those who served in the military, she said. Many people care and will come to events honoring those who served, but if nobody plans them, then many are left not knowing how they can show their support.

She said the events are also important to those close to military members who died while serving, stating that “it’s like a hug you get once a year.”

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For Allison Beane’s family, Memorial Day was always important and celebrated, but when they lost her stepson, Terry Beane, 26, who had only been in the Army for 1 1/2 years, it became much more important, she said. He was on a tanker stationed in California at the time.

Coming from a family of many servicemen, Terry Beane wanted to serve in the Marine Corps like his father but had too many tattoos, so he joined the Army instead, Allison Beane said. He wanted to make his family proud, including the two daughters he left behind, whom he loved the most.

He was the type of person who made everyone laugh and was there for people, she said. She thinks he might have become a counselor when he got out of the military. “He was just a really genuine person, really happy and loved by everyone.”

Ariana Staples, center left, and Emillie Gabriel lay a wreath Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park during the L&A Veterans Council Memorial Day observance in Lewiston. Gold Star mothers Bethel Shields, left, and Joyce Richmond, right, place flags during the ceremony. Staples and Gabriel are members of Scouting America Troop 2019. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Thomas Shields always honors his son, Navy Lt. James B. Shields, on Memorial Day. He died in 1991 while on patrol over the Pacific Ocean when two U.S. aircraft collided in an accident, killing 27 men.

Shields and his wife, Bethel Shields, place a flower on their son’s marker in the North Auburn Cemetery every Memorial Day, he said.

He had been in the military for a few years stationed in California before the accident, Thomas Shields said. James Shields was always at the top of his class, had a happy-go-lucky attitude and was down to earth. “He was doing his duty and he loved serving his country.”

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The ceremony this year was shorter because of the ongoing restoration work after a flood in December 2023 damaged monuments in the park. Flooding washed away part of the ground under the Jeep monument, which was just leveled out this week ahead of the ceremony.

The Jeep was donated by Doland “Del” Gendron, a 97-year-old World War II veteran who lost a fellow service member while serving. Shortly after joining the military at 17, he was sent to Pearl Harbor after the attack. Sailing into the harbor on the USS Hancock, he saw the destruction after the attack, he said.

“Everything was a mess,” he said.

Spending three years in the Navy, he had four close friends whom he met and served with, and one of them died while serving, he said. They completed boot camp together and served together.

He patrolled several islands around Hawaii, never seeing combat himself, he said. In 1946 he got out of the Navy and settled in the Lewiston-Auburn area. He got married, had six children and started several businesses, including operating convenience stores and starting Gendron & Gendron, Inc., that has since been passed down to his children.

He would meet up with his three remaining military friends for years after they stopped serving but he is the only surviving member of the group now, he said.

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Attendees acknowledge World War II veteran Doland “Del” Gendron on Saturday during the L&A Veterans Council Memorial Day observance at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

During the observance, Pastor George Sheats led two prayers. Boy Scouts, now known as Scouting America, and Girl Scouts joined the Kora Temple’s Legion of Honor as color guards, James Thibodeau played songs on the bagpipes, representatives of Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden read letters, and flags and a wreath were placed on the monument at the front of the park. There was a cannon salute and taps was played.

Auburn Mayor Jeffrey Harmon spoke about how military service members unite for a common goal, coming from different racial, religious, political ideology and geographical backgrounds, he said. Veterans today carry forward the same commitment that those who died while serving carried with them.

“May we recognize that the members of our armed forces today stand upon the legacy of the fallen that went before them. And while we live in a troubled and uncertain world, we can take comfort in the fact that they will serve with the same honor and distinction as those that we have gathered here to remember.”

Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline spoke briefly recognizing all that was lost to those who died while serving their country.

“They had goals, dreams and plans for their future but did not waver in their military commitments … The footprints left on our hearts are irreplaceable,” he said, “and may we never stop telling their stories and saying their names.”

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