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Memorial Day

Honoring and Remembering the Fallen

'Karen and Jay share thoughts on the meaning and importance of Memorial Day'

Memorial Day is not Veteran’s Day. Rather than a day of celebration, instead on this solemn occasion each year, we reflect and express our supreme gratitude to those who have given their lives defending America and the freedom that we hold so dear.

It serves as a poignant reminder of the price that has been paid by so many and a time to take a moment for each of us to open our hearts and rededicate ourselves to the spirit of America such that their sacrifice shall not be in vain.

I’m proud to say that here in the Granite State, we have a rich military tradition and have seen countless sons and daughters make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation dating back to the time of our

nation’s founding. For instance, one such individual is John Hart, a Revolutionary War hero from New Hampshire known for his unwavering dedication to the cause of independence. His sacrifice symbolizes the spirit of selflessness that runs deep in our state's history.

More recent, another such hero is Specialist Marc Paul Decoteau of Waterville Valley who lost his life in Afghanistan while serving his country. And in my hometown of Newport, Army Spc. Justin A. Rollins, who died while serving in Iraq. The bravery and dedication of these young men along with so many others serve as a testament to the valor of New Hampshire's military personnel. As Memorial Day approaches, communities across the state come together to honor these fallen heroes through various events and ceremonies.

One poignant event in New Hampshire is the annual Memorial Day Parade in Bedford, where residents gather to pay tribute to the fallen and show their respect for those who have served. The solemnity

of the occasion is palpable as attendees reflect on the sacrifices made by generations past. It is a time to come together as a community and ensure that the memory of those who gave their lives in service is never forgotten.

In addition to formal ceremonies, many families in New Hampshire visit cemeteries and memorials to pay their respects to loved ones who served in the military. These personal acts of remembrance serve

to keep the memory of the fallen alive in the hearts of their families and communities. Through these small gestures, the spirit of Memorial Day continues to resonate in the lives of those who remember and honor the courageous individuals who gave everything for their country.

As we observe Memorial Day this year, let us not forget the countless heroes, both known and unknown, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we hold dear. Their courage and selflessness inspire us to strive for a better world and to honor their memory through our actions. May we always remember and honor those who have given their lives in defense of our nation, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.


Wreath Laying - It’s Rich History - Honoring Those Who Have Fallen 

Wreath Laying is a time-honored tradition with deep historical roots, tracing back to ancient civilizations that used wreaths as symbols of honor and remembrance. In the context of honoring servicemen and women, wreath laying has evolved into a solemn ritual, expressing gratitude and respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The tradition of wreath laying in a military context began in ancient Greece and Rome, where wreaths were laid at the graves of soldiers as a mark of respect. This practice was revitalized during and after World War I, when nations sought ways to commemorate the massive loss of life. In the United States, the custom has become a central part of Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, symbolizing the nation’s collective mourning and appreciation for its fallen heroes.

The purpose of wreath laying is multifaceted. It serves as a public expression of mourning and a tangible act of remembrance. Each wreath laid is a tribute to the individual sacrifices of soldiers, acknowledging their courage and the high cost of freedom. The act of laying a wreath also brings communities together, fostering a sense of shared grief and collective memory. It is a moment of reflection, allowing individuals to contemplate the values of service, duty, and patriotism.

In New Hampshire, we honor our fallen servicemen and women at various key locations, each with significant historical and emotional resonance. One of the most notable sites is the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. This cemetery hosts an annual Memorial Day ceremony, where wreaths are laid at the graves of veterans, symbolizing the state’s respect and gratitude.

Another significant location is the New Hampshire War Memorial in Concord, which honors the memory of service members from various conflicts. Ceremonies here often include wreath laying as a central act of remembrance, drawing participants from across the state. Portsmouth, home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, also holds ceremonies where wreaths are laid to honor Navy personnel who have served and sacrificed.

Wreaths Across America  is an organization dedicated to continuing this tradition by involving communities nationwide in the act of placing wreaths on the graves of veterans. Their mission is to "Remember, Honor, Teach," by organizing wreath laying ceremonies at over 3,700 locations across the United States, including significant sites in New Hampshire. This effort ensures that each wreath laid is not only a tribute but also an educational tool, reminding participants and observers alike of the importance of honoring our veterans.

The importance of wreath laying in New Hampshire cannot be overstated. It is a ritual that underscores the state’s commitment to remembering and honoring its military members. This tradition ensures that the sacrifices of the past are not forgotten, fostering a culture of respect and remembrance among younger generations. Wreath Laying ceremonies across New Hampshire serve as powerful reminders of the cost of freedom and the enduring legacy of those who have defended it.  We encourage you to see if there is an opportunity for you to become involved especially if your community has such efforts.

Hometown Heroes - Programs Across the US

Perhaps you’ve driven through a town in New Hampshire – or elsewhere in the country – and have seen beautiful banners lining the street showing the pictures and telling the stories of local service men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.  You’ve also noticed that these banners are sponsored by Hometown Heroes and wondered about the organization.  Well, here, we’re delighted to share what it’s all about.

The Hometown Heroes program at focuses on honoring and supporting military personnel, first responders, and their families. It provides financial assistance, resources, and community recognition to ensure that these individuals receive the help and acknowledgment they deserve for their service and sacrifices. Participants can save approximately $3,050 on home purchases, $1,800 on home sales, and $1,250 on mortgage refinancing through the program's network of real estate professionals.

Across the United States, various Hometown Heroes programs exist, each with a unique focus. Florida's Hometown Heroes program, for example, offers down payment and closing cost assistance to veterans, teachers, nurses, and law enforcement officers to help them purchase homes in the communities they serve​ (FLGov)​​(FloridaHomeLoans)​. Coral Springs, Florida, and Upper Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania, have banner programs that publicly honor local military personnel and veterans by displaying their names and photos in prominent community locations​(City of Coral Springs)​​(Upper Gwynedd)​.

In New Hampshire, the Hometown Heroes program by USA Insulation is another example. This initiative offers home insulation giveaways to veterans, active-duty military, reserve military, and first responders living in the service area. The program aims to improve their living conditions by providing whole-home insulation, which can significantly impact comfort and energy efficiency​ (Hometown Heroes)​.  This program is still open as one can enter up until June 28th and the winner is announced on July 3rd.

As Memorial Day approaches, it is important to remember and honor the military personnel who have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. These Hometown Heroes programs play a crucial role in ensuring that the sacrifices of these individuals are not forgotten, providing both recognition and tangible support to those who continue to serve.

Hometown Heroes programs across the nation serve as vital resources for recognizing and supporting military personnel and first responders. They offer financial assistance, community recognition, and essential services to help these individuals and their families thrive. We encourage you to search out and find a Hometown Heroes program that you can participate in or perhaps help support.

Positive Profile of the Week: Chad Graham, Woody Williams Foundation

This week we are delighted to be highlighting a friend and extraordinary leader, Chad Graham.


Chad has been the driving force behind the Woody Williams Foundation, an organization founded by his grandfather, Hershel “Woody” Williams, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient. As the Foundation's President and CEO, Chad has brought a profound commitment to honoring and supporting Gold Star Families across the nation. His leadership is characterized by a blend of visionary thinking and compassionate action, reflecting the core values of the Foundation. 


Under Chad's guidance, the Woody Williams Foundation has experienced significant growth and expanded its impact. He has been instrumental in establishing numerous Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States, providing a place of solace and recognition for families who have lost loved ones in military service. Chad's efforts have not only preserved the legacy of fallen heroes but have also fostered a sense of community and healing for grieving families.


Chad’s keen understanding of both the military and nonprofit sectors allows him to navigate challenges with strategic insight and empathy. He is known for his ability to inspire others, galvanizing communities and stakeholders to rally behind the Foundation’s mission.


In addition to his professional achievements, I admire Chad for his personal qualities. His authenticity, humility, and relentless dedication to service make him a respected figure among peers and supporters alike. He embodies the spirit of service above self, continuing the noble work of his grandfather with unwavering passion.


Chad Graham’s leadership at the Woody Williams Foundation ensures that the sacrifices of Gold Star Families are never forgotten. Through his tireless efforts, he not only honors the past but also builds a future where the bravery and sacrifices of America's military families are eternally remembered and celebrated. Thank you, Chad, for your remarkable service and leadership!

Quotes of the Week:  Memorial Day

"Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it." – Unknown


"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example." - Benjamin Disraeli


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy


"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened." - Billy Graham


"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." - Jeff Miller


"America without her soldiers would be like God without His angels." - Claudia Pemberton



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