By Debra Thornblad
BERLIN – The Northern Correctional Facility Tuesday held its first Memorial Day Ceremony since the formation of the new American Legion Post 123 at the prison for veterans incarcerated there.
“You are not forgotten as long as there is one who remembers your name,” Robert A. Long said in his welcoming remarks.
After watching an emotional film with veterans explaining to their grandchildren that they fought for them, the colors were posted and everyone joined in the Pledge to the Flag, invocation and singing of the National Anthem. The ceremony was held in the gym and it was a full house.
The new post was officially accepted on January 28 of this year. They are operating under a temporary charter, with their full charter expected in about a month. Because they cannot raise money in a prison, the first year of the new post is being sponsored entirely by the Gorham American Legion Auxiliary Post 82.
Auxiliary President Linda Dupont gave William Kapusta, commander of the new post, a framed commendation of thanks for all of the poppies made by the inmates. Each inmate that participated was given a bookmark in thanks.
Long gave a brief history of Memorial Day, noting the first one, then called Decoration Day, was held on May 30, 1868, when flags were placed on the graves of Civil War dead.
The national ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery, he said, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier gives those families whose members are still missing a place to grieve.
The guest speaker was America Legion N.H. State Commander Ken Maynard.
Maynard spoke about a letter written by a Sgt. Stacey to be read in case he was killed. He was, on January 23, 2012. In it he noted his death may not change the world, but if it meant the safety of one child that will one day change the world, it was worthwhile.
“We need to be there for that child without a father, the spouse without their life partner, parents who continue to grieve for one who died too soon,” he said. “Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. The family left behind will remember every day.”
Peter Barton, Ken Lang and the Free Indeed Ensemble, made up of inmates at the prison, then sang “All gave some, some gave all.”
Kim Klode and William Kapusta read all of the names of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attendees in the audience then called out names of veterans they wanted remembered.
In closing Pastor David Canter noted they have been coming up to the prison for two years, but it was really the men here who have put this all together and made the new post possible.