(Editor’s note: Over her years at the paper, news reporter Charlotte Boynton has written countless features profiling local veterans. With Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, we could think of no one better to commemorate those who fought for our country.)
We must never forget the dedication of American veterans who fought in several wars and conflicts, dating back to the Revolutionary War, from 1775-1783. What followed was World War I (1914-1918); World War II (1939-1945); the Korean War (1950-1953); the Vietnam War (1955-1975); the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991); the War in Afghanistan (2001-2021); and more.
Many of the veterans from those wars never came home, their lives lost in battle. Those who came home continued to serve in some capacity in their community, state, and nation. Some even became president of the United States.
During the calendar year there are holidays we celebrate because of the contributions of our veterans. We would not have a Fourth of July to celebrate our independence if it were not for the Continental Army led by George Washington, fighting for our independence from Great Britain. A new national holiday, Juneteenth, celebrated June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S., would not be celebrated if it were not for the sacrifices of our veterans.
Over the past 100 years, the names of Memorial Day and Veterans Day have been changed. Memorial Day, celebrated the last Monday in May, was originally called Decoration Day and was marked by decorating the graves sites of Union and Confederate soldiers. Veterans Day was originally named Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. In 1954 the day was changed to Veterans Day, to honor all veterans of all wars.
While the names of the holiday have changed, the purpose of continues to be the honoring of our veterans.
One of my earliest memories as a child was meeting Civil War veterans at a Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War convention in the late 1930s with my grandparents. My grandmother was a member of the organization, being a descendant of a Civil War veteran. I was a junior member, and always marched in the Memorial Day parades with the group carrying American flags.
I grew up taught to respect the flag of our country, learned the Pledge of Allegiance before staring school. My grandfather, Sanford James Garey, born in Boothbay Harbor, was a veteran of World War I, he was a man that loved his country, fought for his country, and taught his children and his grandchildren they were very fortunate to live in America.
My mother, Clara Garey Pelletier, was the daughter of Sanford. I sometimes feel she was ahead of her times, as she joined the Army during World War II to serve her country, leaving my sister and I with relatives. I remember people looking down on her for leaving us, which we couldn’t understand, because our grandfather said we should be proud. We were.
Over the years I have been asked what I like to write about the most. My answer is always veterans. I enjoy sharing their stories. They are the real heroes and their stories deserved to be told.
I am thankful that over the past 23 years, I have been able to share several veterans stories with you. Hopefully, there will be more.