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Honoring Our Veterans

By Marty Helman

In just a few weeks, beautiful, meaningful banners showcasing local veterans will appear on the telephone poles throughout the Region.  These banners are the brainchild of Jim Singer, who put together a committee, championed the program through the American Legion post, and has brought all four towns in agreement to support the program.

Jim a former Rotarian and current Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine), fellow vet Phil Chapman, and auxiliary member (and USAF widow) Sue Burge came to our Rotary meeting last week with sample banners memorializing Dan Jameson, a long time Rotarian who we lost just a week ago, and Frank Helman, personally my favorite vet.

Jim started off by playing the video he made back in 2010, when our Veterans Appreciation Night was brand-new.  That’s when he started collecting “then and now” photos of our local vets, and honoring them by remembering them every Veterans Day since.  That original video reminded us of many friends no longer with us; Jim also gave us a preview of the video that will debut this November; it’s snappier and just as evocative. And the guys look a lot younger!  Thank you, Jim, for your labors of what is clearly love!

Jim said that he now has over 600 vets in his photographic database, and that we are losing local vets at the rate of about 50 per year.  So it is absolutely essential that we honor them while we still can.  

The banners will recognize all veterans, local and deceased, with ties to the Region.  The cost for banners and hardware is $200; you can pay for your veteran by writing a check for that amount or the American Legion will underwrite the hardware and charge you the $135 cost of the banner.  The American Legion is planning to raise $25,000 in funds to pay for that hardware plus to underwrite banners for those without families in the Region and for those for whom the $135 is a tough ask. If you’d like to purchase a banner, get in touch with one of the team members and bring your checkbook! (That’s what I did.)

The towns have agreed that in addition to displaying the banners through Veterans Day this year, they will go up in time for Memorial Day and stay up through Veterans Day each year for the next three years, when the program will be reevaluated.  They will come down before the holidays  so that they don’t get beat up by winter weather, and they will be displayed on telephone poles so they don’t interfere with the HS graduate banners that are displayed on light poles every year.  Jim thanked each of the towns for being so welcoming to the program.

Speaking of our veterans, the club is once again inviting all our local veterans to an Appreciation Night, Thursday, November 9.  Our Interact Club will be very much in evidence and they (and we) are delighted to say thank you in such a tangible way.  Invitations will soon be in the mail to American Legion members and all veterans - Legion members or not - are heartily invited.  The evening is free to all veterans but we need a headcount; please RSVP www.boothbayharborrotary.org

The meeting itself was the usual raucous evening.  Our guests included Emma Bodwell and her husband Peter - Emma is a member of the Bridgton-Lake Region club and she will be District Governor in 2015-16, the year Laurie Zimmerli will be president of our club.  Assistant Governor Lorraine Faherty from the Damariscotta-Newcastle club was with us, and so was Sue Louisignau, still officially a guest but about to become a dues-paying member.  Hurrah, Sue! We also were joined by Charlie, who is from Florida but visiting us at this time.

Our speaker next week will be Charles Britton, a local author. Charlie Britton grew up on Southport Island and attended local schools. His debut novel, Eight-Man Cowboy (under the pen name C.W. Wells), has garnered strong reviews and been a consistent seller on Amazon. Delvin Davis, Eight-Man Cowboy's protagonist, is an NFL coach on his way to the Hall of Fame when an egregious Super Bowl blunder costs him everything. Humiliated and running from haters, he’s exiled to a woebegone fishing town in Maine and relegated to coaching eight-man high school football with flimsy hopes of returning to the spotlight.

Britton was one of the country’s leading independent school educators and now serves as an educational consultant. He lives on Southport with his wife, Jen, who is Director of the Southport Memorial Library. His recent novel, LONESTAR, was published this spring.

During his talk, Britton will discuss the writing and publishing process.

We’re hoping to keep Rotary barn open till December, so we’re still taking donations of gently used pots/pans, silverware, tools, boats, furniture and Christmas decorations.  You name it, we'll probably take it.  Just text Deb at 207-380-3550 to arrange a pick up or drop off.

If you're interested in the fun and work of Rotary, join us any Thursday at 6:00 pm at our Clubhouse, 66 Montgomery Rd, Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04538.  We look forward to meeting you.