Veterans Honored at Gibson Cemetery Sunset Service

November 15, 2013


by Marc Ayotte

A small but reflective gathering enjoyed the honoring of those who have served and currently serve this nation with a sunset service at the Veteran’s Plaza at Gibson Cemetery in Pelham.  Veterans Day is officially observed on November 11, and is intended to honor and thank all military personnel, particularly living veterans, who served the United States in wars.

The service was a combined effort of the Pelham American Legion Post 100 and the Pelham VFW Post 10722.  Paul Pellerin, who commanded the 21 gun salute, has been on the American Legion’s Honor Guard for the past 37 years and has held the position of Captain for the past four.  Among the VFW representatives was current Commander, Mark McCabe.  The late afternoon service followed an earlier, morning gathering by both Posts just up the road at the Veterans Memorial Park.

The service began with McCabe reading the opening prayer and was followed by Aram Jeknavorian who is the current Adjutant and past Commander for the American Legion – Pelham Post 100.  Jeknavorian recited two literary pieces; “In Flanders Fields” which he said is a “traditional poem” written by a Canadian Lt. Commander and then followed that by a reading of “We stand for Freedom” by Roger Robicheau, a U.S. Army Specialist, 5th Class.

McCabe followed with a recital of names that reflected Pelham residents who had served their country in wars ranging from the French and Indian War to the Civil War to as recently as Iraq.  In a poignant moment, McCabe read the name of Daniel Gionet, a former Pelham High student who tragically lost his life in Iraq while serving his country.  Daniel’s mother Denise Gionet and grandfather, Ernest Trepanier who served in the Air Force during the Korean War were present for the service.

Just prior to the service, Pellerin and other members of the rifle squad that fired the traditional 21 gun salute discussed a comrade of theirs who recently passed on.  Ric Andrews was a long-time American Legion honor guard who was also a well decorated war hero.  A lifelong resident of Pelham, Andrews was the recipient of two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts; resultant of his service to his country during the Vietnam War.  He also was a past Commander of the Pelham Post 100 Legion.

VFW Commander McCabe discussed the attempt at getting more people to recognize and participate in Veterans Day events such as the sunset service in Pelham; “the hope really is that the community will respond and come.”  McCabe mentioned that he along with a lot of people is supposed to work as a result of ‘corporate America’ keeping their doors open for business on Veterans Day.  By comparison, he cited England as a country that honors its veterans in a more celebrated and overt fashion; “this country doesn’t do that enough,” added McCabe.

In addition to other members and officials of the Legion and VFW who attended the celebration of our veterans’ service to their country, were representatives of the Pelham Police Department.  There on behalf of the PPD were Master Patrol Officer Matt Keenliside, who is a nine year member of the local force as well as a National Guard veteran and a former Black Hawk pilot and Captain out of Camp Edwards.  He was accompanied by Sgt. Anne Perriello who has been with the town police department for almost 13 years, and in her current capacity for the past six and Officer Bismark Montano who spent 11 years in the military serving his country and has been on the PPD for five years.