“A perfect day to thank our veterans”

STRATHAM — More than 100 residents gathered in Stratham Hill Park’s Veterans Garden on Thursday to commemorate Veterans Day.

The ceremony was led by members of BSA Troop 185 and Cub Scout Pack 185 Scouts, who hoisted the colours. Girl Scout Troop 59149 recited the Pledge of Allegiance and select woman Allison Knab served as emcee.

Resident Christine Eaton sang the national anthem and led the crowd in singing “God Bless America” ​​to close the ceremony.

Members of Stratham Scouts BSA Troop 185 prepare to raise the colors during the town's Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, November 11, 2021.

The keynote address was delivered by resident and Army veteran Matthew Chambers. Chambers enlisted in the army in 1995 as an infantryman and served with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Chambers was deployed on four combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was also deployed in peacekeeping missions in the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s, serving in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Chambers said Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, to mark the end of World War I, on the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month of the year.

“We join different branches that serve our nation, and great people, for many different reasons: certain colleges, certain benefits, certain patriotism or a sense of responsibility,” Chambers said. “But the reason why I stayed, what really stood out to me, the reasons why we all stay… the opportunity to be around the most extraordinary men and women I can imagine.”

Army Veteran Matthew Chambers delivers a keynote address at the Stratham Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday November 11, 2021.

Chambers said that for veterans, the invisible wounds of war are “etched” in their minds and that their commitment to each other and to the country has given them the will to keep fighting.

“For these men and women, their watch will never be over,” Chambers said. “Standing side by side in some of the darkest and most trying times; to see men and women protecting themselves, holding on at all costs, despite their pain, ignoring their wounds, or their loss, refusing to surrender, even if sometimes normally it meant their life – I can never explain to everyone those of you who haven’t.

Members of the Stratham Volunteer Fire Department Rifle Squad stand by during the town's Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday, November 11, 2021.

Knab said Chambers “distinguished himself as a truly gifted (non-commissioned officer) and embodies what an infantry leader should be.”

Service organizers, residents Geri Denton and Jeff Gallagher, said after a year blighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was nice to have so many community members come out to say thank you to veterans.

“We had our ceremonies for Veterans Day and Memorial Day practically last year, so that was just us,” Denton said. “It’s great that so many people from the community came out today.”

“It was a perfect day to thank our veterans,” added Gallagher. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

The people of Stratham sing "God bless America" together at the end of the Veterans Day Municipal Ceremony on Thursday, November 11, 2021.