Dedication of Veterans Memorial Bench
June 14, 2009
Speech given by Ron Hamlin, Commander American Legion Mayberry-Anderson Post #91 and a resident of North Yarmouth
Today we have gathered to remember … and honor … All of the residents of North Yarmouth who served their country in the armed forces. The Veterans of North Yarmouth have always been a source of pride for the citizens of our community … as illustrated previously by the history of this Park and Highway. The names of its brave citizens who gave their lives while serving … are inscribed on a bronze plaque affixed to stone in this Veterans Memorial Park.
When we say … VETERANS … what exactly do we mean? Exactly WHO are these Veterans? We know those who died … by reading their names on that plaque, but how do we know who the others are? Why do we care?
A Veteran could be anyone … the guy delivering your mail … a Selectman here in town … the nurse at your child’s school … a firefighter … the realtor who helped you to buy your home … a teacher at the school across the street … the guy who owns the village store … the mechanic who fixes your car … a person in the choir at your church … the carpenter you hired to build your front porch … the fellow who plows your driveway each winter … your barber or hairdresser … the social worker who drives your widowed mother to the doctor … or even the doctor himself … your best friend … your spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle. The fact is … a Veteran can be anyone among us.
Putting aside their civilian occupation … a Veteran is someone who answered the call to serve their country … the call to take responsibility for defending the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Someone who put their life’s plans on hold … on hold from going to college … from seeking the perfect job and getting an early start on a career … someone who waited to marry their sweetheart … waited to have kids … someone who spent any number of years of service in the military … someone who GAVE part of his or her life … for our benefit … to do whatever was asked of them. The American Veteran has put his life on the line during times of war to defend this country … and to help secure freedom and democracy for numerous other nations around the world. Though not all were called into combat … each one who answered the call to arms knew the risk … and ALL were ready to give their life if necessary. While some military careers were short and perhaps not all that glamorous … each Veteran performed an important military job … whether it was in finance, supply, administration, security, training other soldiers, flying or repairing airplanes, working as a cook in the mess hall, as an engineer in the boiler room on a carrier out to sea, driving a tank, building bridges, firing artillery, or as a foot soldier carrying a rifle. Whether serving state-side or in a foreign land … each one of them GAVE something in service to this country … serving the American people … serving us … each played a part in defending our freedom and securing our way of life … in short … THEY ALL GAVE SOME.
We also know that too many of our young men and women who answered the call … died in service to our country … as evidenced by the bronze plaque bearing the six names of those Sons of North Yarmouth. For those six … and way too many other Americans … their lives were put on hold permanently … their lives were cut short never to live out the dreams of their youth … it matters not what joys of life they missed … for whatever it was … it was a tragic loss … a loss of some of America’s finest … it was a loss so each of us might live out … OUR dreams … so we could live in a country where freedom is king … opportunity is abundant … and compared to most of the world … life is good … those six … GAVE ALL.
To quote a saying that has been going around the internet: “A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of “up to and including his life.” That my friends … is quite profound … for as we know … for those six … that check was paid in full … that is Honor … and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand that … way too many who haven’t stopped to think about the significance of what that really means … to fully appreciate the fact that our very freedom and way of life was purchased by those checks.
So … knowing and accepting that each Veteran has given part of themselves for our benefit … it is fitting that we pause often to remember their contribution … their sacrifice … to reflect on what they did for us … to ponder how we would feel if we had to put our youthful lives on hold … or even called upon to give our life … so another might live. It is through such contemplation … that we can more clearly appreciate our Veterans’ legacy. Though most Veterans do not flaunt the issue of their service, it is appropriate that we remember, acknowledge, and appreciate what they have done.
In doing so … we have gathered here today to dedicate this granite bench … this Veterans Memorial Bench … in honor of all Veterans. This bench … kindly donated by The Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor … shall serve as a reminder that the freedom we enjoy today … was bought and paid for by what each veteran gave to this country. From this day forward … when thinking of a Veteran … it seems appropriate that we remember the simple inscription carved in the top of this granite bench … All Gave Some … Some Gave All.