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Citizens honor soldiers' service, small-town style

CHESTERTOWN - In a display of pageantry and patriotism, veterans and young scouts marched in formation Nov. 11 to the local soldiers' monument at the center of town.

American Legion Post No. 964 Commander Joanne Ellsworth gazed at the hundred-plus group of local citizens gathered to pay their respects for those who've served their country in the military.

"We remember how men and women set aside their civil pursuits to serve their nation's cause, defending the freedom of mankind and preserving our precious American heritage," she said, turning the subject to Jeremiah Monroe of nearby Brant Lake - a soldier who died recently in Afghanistan. "It was just six weeks ago that this community gathered to pay tribute to one of our own who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom."

She said Monroe exemplified those who for generations chose to put themselves in gut-wrenching combat situations to benefit others, but would consider such sacrifice as "just doing their job."

She solemnly recited all the wars and conflicts since Veterans Day was founded in 1918.

"As time marched on, so did other wars and conflicts, holding their country's strength and freedom dependent on the continued sacrifices of its service members and their families and friends," she said.

Local Legion Auxiliary members placed poppies at the monument in honor of the families of those who served.

The local veterans' honor guard fired three shots in the air, their shell casings flipping out onto the Main St. pavement.

Walking back on the sidewalk toward the Legion post, Rob Smith held the hands of his twin 6-year-old sons, Jacob and Jaden, who'd participated in the parade and ceremony.

"It's so appropriate on a day like today that everybody take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of our soldiers," Smith said.

Back at the Legion post, Legionnaires rolled up their flags for storage and chatted with neighbors attending their post's Veterans Day community reception.

Marion Hornicek and other Legion Auxiliary members served up chili and two soups: wild rice and chicken, and tortellini gumbo. All were created by Joanne Ellsworth's daughter, Krystal Gleason.

Heading to the post, where dozens were gathered to socialize, Ron Wendover walked down a sidewalk with his niece Faith Haire, 5 and nephew John Winter, 9.

"This is a great get-together for a small town," he said. "A lot of people turned out - This is the reason I moved up here."

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