Post commander: 'We won't ever forget'
By Jennifer Feals
Seacoast Sunday, September 12, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- On a beautiful September morning, nine years ago yesterday, our world was forever changed.
For the nine years following Sept. 11, the United States has often paused to remember the service and sacrifice of military members who protect its freedom. Yesterday, on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon, those individuals — and seven New Hampshire soldiers added to the Global War on Terrorism Monument in Hampton — were honored.
"There are 49 names on this monument," said Ralph Fatello, commander of the American Legion Post 35, which first unveiled the monument on Sept. 11, 2006, to honor the fallen since 2001. "They are in good hands with our members. We deeply care about your loved ones, we still grieve with you, and we will hold them all in the highest regard and honor as long as we are still here. You have our solemn word — we won't ever forget."
Hundreds of military veterans, family members of the seven fallen soldiers, and community members looking to pay their respects filled a closed portion of High Street in front of the post Saturday.
The names of the New Hampshire veterans added to the monument, who lost their lives in the last year, are Stephen L. Murphy of Jaffrey, Marc Paul Decoteau of Waterville Valley, Eric D. Currier of Londonderry, Kyle R. Warren of Manchester, Jared N. Van Aalst of Laconia and Andrew C. Nicol of Kensington. Marine Cpl. Philip G. Charte of Goffstown was killed this past week and his name was also added to the monument.
"He died doing what he wanted to do," said Charte's grandmother, Pat Charte, adding the memorial means a lot to her family. "That was the only thing he wanted to do was being in the Marines."
A death as recent as Charte's is a "stark reminder that we are still a nation at war," said Gov. John Lynch, who spoke before the crowd at the ceremony and with family members before. "We must continue to honor the ongoing sacrifice. The pain of that fateful day, nine years ago, has not been erased from our hearts, the images are still vivid and the sadness lingers on."
The seven men who made the ultimate sacrifice and who were honored Saturday answered a call to action, Lynch said, and will forever be "true American heroes."
Combat veteran Staff Sgt. Daniel Strong, who is medically retired from the Marine Corps because of injuries sustained in battle, said the memorial serves as an important reminder for future generations of the veterans, the fallen and their families.
"It's a real honor to be here and see this because I've seen it from the other spectrum, when they fell," Strong said. "It makes me feel good that these men and (their families) will always be remembered and these men who gave their lives will always be honored. I think they'd be smiling and laughing that we're doing this for them because I know I would be."
Paying respects to all military members, saluting as they approached, was 19-year-old Taylor Baxter, who said he is a Marine ROTC cadet. "It's an important day for all of us," Baxter said. "I can never forget. I remember complete and constant silence, complete and constant mourning, complete sadness. All I can say is remember, remember, remember."
Joan Ryan of Hampton lives near the American Legion post and walks by the memorial often.
"I stop and say a prayer every time I walk by," said Ryan, who added she thanks American Legion members for creating such a monument when she sees them. "I say thank you for this memorial where I can stop by and pay my thanks. If it wasn't here I couldn't do that."
With two sons who served in the military, one each in the Marine Corps and Air Force, a father who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and a brother who served in the Marines, Ryan said she understands the sacrifice military members and their families make, and she is always grateful.
"These are the real heroes," she said. "This day reminds me that I cannot take my freedom for granted. 9/11 proves to me that I have to always be alert and watchful and pay attention. It is my responsibility as an American."
[Ioanna Raptis photo]
[Ioanna Raptis photo]
[Ioanna Raptis photo]