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Veterans honored, remembered at Interfaith Prayer Service

Members of several faith communities gathered at Holy Family Church in Lewiston on Monday, November 12, to express their gratitude and to pray for those who have served our country in the Armed Services, as well as those who continue to serve today.

More than 200 people attended the 15th annual “We Remember and Give Thanks” community prayer service hosted by Prince of Peace Parish, including many veterans who rose and saluted as the flag of each of the five branches of service was carried forward during the Presentation of the Colors at the beginning of the evening.

“We gather today to remember our military personnel,” said Father Matthew Gregory, temporary administrator of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston. “We acknowledge that their service enables us to walk as free men and women in this great land of ours. May each of our veterans feel honored, not just today but every day.”

“I’m proud of my country, and I’m proud of what I’m wearing,” said Clifford Plourde, who served in the U.S. Marines in the 1950s and was among those who presented the Marine Corps colors. “I’m 83 years old, and I don’t intend to stop soon. I’ll be back next year.”

During the service, those gathered joined the choir from Holy Family Church in singing songs of reflection, such as “Let There be Peace on Earth” and “God Bless America,” while the Kora Temple Highlanders, a pipe and drum band, played “Amazing Grace,” as well as the hymns of the Army, Navy, Marines Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Throughout the service, leaders from area religious communities, including Reverend Annie Baker-Streevy of Calvary Methodist Church in Lewiston, Rabbi Sruli Dresdner of Temple Shalom Synagogue in Auburn, and Reverend Lloyd Waterhouse of Grace Fellowship Church in Oxford, voiced their appreciation for veterans and led those gathered in asking the Lord to continue to bless them.

There were many other emotionally stirring moments during the service, including the Missing Man Table Ceremony, which remembers prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action.

“Those who have served and those currently serving in branches of the United States military have always been mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted with the bitterness of personal sacrifice,” said Lisa Schulze, a U.S. Army veteran. “We are compelled, then, to never forget that, while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, degradation, or internment.”

Schulze explained the symbolism of the table, which was set up in a corner of the church. The table is round, a sign of everlasting concern for those missing. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of the motives of those answering the call to duty. A single red rose in a vase is a reminder of those missing and those who care for them. A slice of lemon is a reminder of their bitter fate, while a pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of those captured and of their families. A Bible on the table represents the strength gained through faith, while a candle is reminiscent of the light of hope. An inverted glass, however, symbolizes the inability of a POW or MIA to share in a toast, and a chair sits empty waiting for their return. The Missing Man Table Ceremony concluded with the playing of taps by Ivan Boudreau, a U.S. Navy veteran.

Those who attended the service, which is held annually around Veterans Day, said it is important to not forget the bravery and sacrifices of those who serve this country and defend liberty. “It makes people think,” said Irene Pomerleau.  “Some people went through a lot to make us be able to be here.”

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