All across the state, many in New Hampshire paused at 11 a.m. Thursday to honor all United States veterans.
In Portsmouth, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, went to Goodwin Park and told several hundred in attendance that the park is a symbol of national unity even in these divided times.
Shaheen, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Commission on Armed Services, was joined by Josh Denton, a local veteran, who said the day is not about him but about all the veterans out there.
He said he struggled for years to answer “thank you for your service,” and his reply is “thank you for your support.”
Denton urged veterans to “be proud of your service.”
The Portsmouth High School band played, and the Seacoast Detachment 394 and members of the Portsmouth American Legion Post 6 provided a gun salute.
Mayor Rick Becksted of Portsmouth thanked all who came and all who serve. Becksted and Denton lifted a wreath and posed in the center of the ceremony at a large granite monument honoring a number of important battles from the Civil War, including Gettysburg and Antietam.
Shaheen, a Seacoast resident, said it was so nice to join in to honor veterans. She said she was in the band in high school and recalled what it was like to have a day off from school to be part of the band. She thanked them for their music.
“This is a park that was set up to honor all of those who served in the Civil War who kept this country together,” she said.
Shaheen, a former governor and senior Senator said it is “good to remember we have had divisions before and stayed together because we are one nation.”
She said it is because of veterans that we have remained together and and remained free. Shaheen noted service by her family members and how it impacted their lives.
She mentioned two veterans by name who she knows through her years in public office. She recalled the service of Brian Moore, who enlisted and went to Iraq and Afghanistan, and his book, “Purple Hearts and Wounded Spirits,” written to help him process his experience, and the life of Francis Byrne whom she recently worked with to get a Purple Heart from his service in World War II.
Injured, he pushed away medics, and never got the medal he deserved, she said, until recently when he was being treated for cancer. A nurse reached out to her office and worked to get that Purple Heart pinned on his chest.
“I want to close by also recognizing the veterans’ service organizations,” Shaheen said noting such groups are behind much of the work done in Washington to ensure that veterans get the care they need from the government which owes them all so much.
“There is more work to do,” Shaheen said.
Although not able to be there in person, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan D-NH, and Congressman Chris Pappas D-NH, sent a letter in support of the state’s veterans.