Maine town honoring veterans' sacrifices with nightly ceremony

7:31 PM, Jul 25, 2011   |    comments
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People gather for the nightly memorial flag raising in Old Orchard Beach.
Related Links
  • Old Orchard Beach Memorial Flag Raising Website
  • OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Each night this summer at six o'clock, a group of volunteers descends on the town's Veteran's Memorial Park to perform a simple ceremony for people most of them have never met.

    "The ceremony is just to honor a deceased veteran by name," explained Dennis Robillard, one of the event's organizers. 

    The flag raising ceremony honoring three brothers who served during World War II started with the singing on the Star Spangled Banner.  Another volunteer, Dusty Guarino, read their names and spoke about the men's lives before taps was played and the American flag raised to half staff.

    "Sergeant Charles LaChance.  Corporal Paul LaChance, and Corporal George LaChance."

    After a moment of silence, those gathered sang God Bless America as the flag ascended the flag pole and waved in the evening breeze.

    "Our ceremonies aren't very long, it's sometimes ten [minutes], and a long one is twenty, but the families seem very grateful to have someone speak about their family and remember their family member," stated Guarino.

    On this night, the nephew of the men, Arthur LaChance is on hand with his wife.

    "I think it is wonderful, I really do," he said.  LaChance named one of his sons after his uncle George, who was killed in France during WWII.

    "He was my godfather and I named our second son after him, in memory of him," he explained.

    The flag raising ceremonies started on Memorial Day and have been held, rain or shine, since.  They plan on holding one each night through Labor Day and making the events a yearly tradition.

    "These ceremonies have been a mixture," stated Guarino.  "Tonight is number 55 out of 103 that we are doing this season.  They have been 19 year old boys killed in Afghanistan, and they have been, one gentleman, was shot in the head on D-Day paratrooping down and yet he survived and came back and lived a long life in New England."

    The men and women honored do not have to have been killed or injured in combat, do not have to come from Old Orchard and can have served in any of the military branches.  The majority of the slots have been reserved, but there are a few spaces available for families interested in honoring a loved one.

    "The families that come here they see people playing and enjoying the park and feel that is really what their family member fought for, for us to enjoy a sunny day in Old Orchard Beach," said Guarino.

    If you would like more information on the flag raising ceremonies, you can find the groups website by clicking here.





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