Community gathers to thank its heroes

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About 300 people turned out to Littleton’s World War II Memorial on Nov. 11, a golden autumn day, to honor veterans present and past who have stood firm in their protection of the nation.

“Let us never forget that we can’t celebrate the joy without remembering the great price we paid for that freedom,” said Ed Pietsch, commander of American Legion George C. Evans Post 103.

His thought was underscored by 26 peals of a bell, each signifying a veteran Littleton lost over the last year. Pietsch called them unsung heroes.

“Their families may be the only ones who knew their names and the sacrifices they made,” he said.

Mayor Debbie Brinkman acknowledged she can never fully appreciate those sacrifices, but stood before her city’s heroes simply as a grateful American representing all grateful Americans to say “thank you.”

“The enormity of their sacrifice is beyond compare,” she said. “So how do we dare to believe that two words, eight letters is enough? … It isn’t enough to say it, we need to be it. Ceremonies are important, but our gratitude has to be more than once a year. We have to honor their efforts by living well.”

Charles Dwyer of the American Legion took the opportunity to remind the observers that the day was also the 60th anniversary of the end of hostilities in the Korean War. He said it’s often unfortunately referred to as the “Forgotten War,” having been wedged between the end of WWII and the stirrings of the Vietnam War.

“All veterans have earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Jack Woodman, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Pat Hannon Post 4666. He urged all citizens to help ensure that all who have served to protect the country are in turn protected by that country.

“Every American, no matter where they live or what they do, reaps the benefits of their service,” he said.

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