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State leaders, families honor veterans at Memorial Day ceremony

  • Pfc. Jamieson Dickinson takes a moment at the grave of Michael Briggs following the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Briggs, a friend of Dickinson's family, was a police officer in Manchester that was shot in the line of duty in 2006 and also served as a Marine in the Persian Gulf. While Dickinson was in basic training for the National Guard, he wore Briggs's badge number "83" over his heart. "It was the only thing that got me through," he said.<br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Pfc. Jamieson Dickinson takes a moment at the grave of Michael Briggs following the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Briggs, a friend of Dickinson's family, was a police officer in Manchester that was shot in the line of duty in 2006 and also served as a Marine in the Persian Gulf. While Dickinson was in basic training for the National Guard, he wore Briggs's badge number "83" over his heart. "It was the only thing that got me through," he said.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, May 30, 2013.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Irene Messier and her son Christopher stand for the National Anthem during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Irene Messier and her son Christopher stand for the National Anthem during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Raymond Paradis sits with near Gerard Jankuskas's grave at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Paradis and Jankuskas were old friends. Jankuskas, of Weare, was a Marine veteran that served during the Korean and Vietnam wars. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Raymond Paradis sits with near Gerard Jankuskas's grave at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Paradis and Jankuskas were old friends. Jankuskas, of Weare, was a Marine veteran that served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Balloons sit at Christopher Smith's grave during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Smith's father brings the balloons to the cemetery for every holiday and releases them before leaving. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Balloons sit at Christopher Smith's grave during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Smith's father brings the balloons to the cemetery for every holiday and releases them before leaving.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Memorial Day at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

    Memorial Day at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013.

    ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Pfc. Jamieson Dickinson takes a moment at the grave of Michael Briggs following the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Briggs, a friend of Dickinson's family, was a police officer in Manchester that was shot in the line of duty in 2006 and also served as a Marine in the Persian Gulf. While Dickinson was in basic training for the National Guard, he wore Briggs's badge number "83" over his heart. "It was the only thing that got me through," he said.<br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Irene Messier and her son Christopher stand for the National Anthem during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Spc. Fifth Class Tom Lambert salutes the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Raymond Paradis sits with near Gerard Jankuskas's grave at the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Paradis and Jankuskas were old friends. Jankuskas, of Weare, was a Marine veteran that served during the Korean and Vietnam wars. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Balloons sit at Christopher Smith's grave during the Memorial Day ceremony at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. Smith's father brings the balloons to the cemetery for every holiday and releases them before leaving. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff
  • Memorial Day at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on May 30, 2013. <br/><br/>ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff

As the band played taps at the end of the Memorial Day ceremony at New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery yesterday morning, sisters Joyce Douglas and Krista Cole of Derry listened and dabbed their eyes with tissues.

The two wore shirts with the words “All gave some, Some gave all” emblazoned across the back and the name of their nephew, Lance Cpl. Michael Geary, on the front. Below his name was Dec. 8, 2010, the date Geary was killed in action in Afghanistan at 20 years old.

“It punched a hole in this world in our hearts,” Cole said of the death of the Pinkerton Academy graduate.

Hundreds gathered at the state veterans cemetery yesterday to remember and express gratitude for Geary and the nearly 5,000 other men and women buried in the cemetery who served their country, in addition to all others who served in the past and those who are still serving today.

At the ceremony, hosted by the Department of New Hampshire Marine Corps League and led by the league’s commandant Frank Saglime, several state officials and distinguished veterans spoke of the sacrifices service members have made and how Americans can remember and express gratitude for those sacrifices.

As a member of the Senate’s Committee on Armed Services, Sen. Kelly Ayotte has traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq and met some of these dedicated soldiers. Ayotte said she is constantly in awe of how incredible the military personnel serving America are, and how blessed their country is for their willingness to give their lives to serve.

“They stand, along with those who have served who I see in this audience today, along with all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, as a lasting model of patriot and courage that inspires us all,” she said.

These men and women deserve their nation’s enduring, rather than occasional, gratitude, Ayotte said.

“Let us resolve that Memorial Day is not a day that happens on one day of the year, but it is a day we remember that every day we should honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in the line of duty,” she said. “Every day is a day when we see a veteran or an active duty member, we should thank them for what they do.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan provided an alternate means to demonstrate gratitude for the men and women serving in the country’s armed forces. Hassan noted the large crowds, and said the numbers are representative of how indebted New Hampshire citizens are to those who have given their lives for their country.

Each time a member of the military does not return home, Hassan said the loss adds
on to a debt that can never be repaid. Therefore, the
American people must continue the work of the fallen in ensuring the freedom they fought for.

“We owe it to them, to all who are buried here in this cemetery, to those in nameless graves around the world, to anyone who has ever served, to continue to work to make sure our state and our country are worthy of such fathomless sacrifice,” she said.

On Wednesday, 1st Lt. Paul DeMeo of Derry joined that list of those buried in the state veterans cemetery who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Rep. Annie Kuster called DeMeo, 23, a young hero, an “exemplary officer and a soldier all of New Hampshire can be proud of.”

DeMeo, who graduated from Pinkerton Academy two years before Geary, was laid to rest a few rows away from his former classmate. Large bouquets of flowers atop still-fresh soil distinguished his burial site from others surrounding it.

“It is only fitting that (DeMeo) join so many other brave and honorable souls here in the state veterans cemetery,” Kuster said.

(Mel Flanagan can be reached at 369-3321 or mflanagan@cmonitor.com.)

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