By Pam Harnden, Livermore Falls Advertiser
LIVERMORE FALLS — Last week grade four students at Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Jay traveled to George Bunten American Legion Post #10 to learn about Veterans.
Past commander Donald Simoneau welcomed the students. He said it’s been 45 years since he served in the Army.
“Why serve? We love what we have here. We’re willing to sacrifice for our freedom,” he said.
When asked, one student said Veterans’ Day is a time for honoring loved ones and those who served.
Simoneau showed a video which focused on four veterans.
Diane Carlson Evens was an Army nurse in Vietnam. She was later responsible for the creation of the Vietnam Woman’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. She said she was afraid she wouldn’t know what to do. She was proud to serve her country.
Billie Holmes was a bomber pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He talked about one mission when two of his crew were wounded and his plane badly damaged. He said being a veteran means being willing to die for your country.
Joe Frank was an Army engineer in Vietnam who was blown into the air and paralyzed from the chest down when a land mine exploded nearby. He works with other veterans who have suffered spinal cord injuries. He said he would do it all again so people could be free.
Joseph Rodriguez received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the country’s highest honor for valor and self-sacrifice, for his actions in the Korean War. He is one of the few servicemen who lived to receive the award. We need to appreciate what a great country we live in, he said.
“There are a lot of freedoms in this country we take for granted,” Simoneau said. “In some countries people can’t gather. Voting is a huge freedom. You have a voice, can settle disputes.”
Simoneau said soldiers returning from the Vietnam War hid their uniforms, didn’t talk about it.
“The largest percentage of Veterans today are from that war. They feel like they never had a thank you. The first thank you was given to me almost 40 years after I served. I cried,” Simoneau said.
Simoneau said with freedom comes responsibility.
Also sharing information were three others with ties to Veterans.
Paul Bright, who served in the Army from 1961-1964, spoke about his time in Germany. He used a WWII teletype system where every key had two functions. A message came in regarding a family emergency at home for one of the soldiers. His commanding officer couldn’t decipher the message and Bright was able to read it for him.
“You never know what kind of situation you’re going to face,” Bright said.
Sheila Weed, a member of the AMVETS Auxiliary in Jay and a state officer, has several family members who served in the military. Her grandson recently joined the Air National Guard.
George Doiron said, “Keep your schooling up. It will always come in handy.”
Simoneau asked the students to thank a veteran.
“Take a moment Saturday to remember why we are so free,” he said.