Portland celebrates Veterans Day

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PORTLAND — It was blustery and bustling Nov. 11 as the annual Veterans Day parade made its way down Congress Street from Longfellow Square to City Hall.

Led by the Portland Police Color Guard and Grand Marshal Mert Rutherford, members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and active military members stepped off at about 10:30 a.m.

Rutherford was marching in his 100th parade as a 50-year Post member, a total that includes Memorial Day parades.

Joining the parade ranks were Mayor Ethan Strimling, City Council members, local Scouts, and Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, a former Marine.

Veterans also lined the parade route. Standish resident Robert Austin, a Desert Storm veteran, was joined by his son, Devon as they watched his sons Robert and Hunter; and his wife, Nina march with Cub Scouts.

“The only one not in uniform at the house is our dog,” he joked.

Across the street, Raymond resident Peter Morgan and other local members of Veterans for Peace gathered in Monument Square.

Morgan served in the Coast Guard from 1969-73, and said on Veterans Day, he thinks of three men he knew who died in basic training, adding he would like to see them added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

“Their families have made the same sacrifice as those on the wall,” he said.

An 11 a.m. ceremony followed in City Hall Plaza, led by American Legion Harold T. Andrews Post No. 17 Commander Ernest Shorey. Speakers included Strimling, Sauschuck and former state Rep. Herb Adams, D-Portland.

“They are ready to go and represent us,” Sauschuck said of the military while asking the audience to be ready to give something back. “One of the things we can do is tell them how valuable they are.”

Adams noted the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I comes in spring 2017. The American Legion post is named for the first Mainer to die in that war.

Andrews died defending his ground in France with only a shovel, Adams noted, while asking people to reach out to veterans now.

“Too many have a story untold and a memory unrecorded,” he said.

Following the remarks, two wreaths were set next to the City Hall steps, and members of the Maine Marine Corps League Southern Maine Detachment No. 1324 fired a salute.

Deering High School senior Marcus Curit-Kurasz played “Taps” following the volleys.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling speaks outside City Hall in a ceremony following the Veterans Day parade.

Army Staff Sgt. E-6 Charles Bonetti of Portland stands at attention as “The Star Spangled Banner” is played outside City Hall after the Veterans Day parade.

Marchers entering Monument Square in Portland’s Veterans Day parade were greeted with some mixed messages.

Raymond resident Peter Morgan, at right, is a Coast Guard veteran who joined other members of Veterans for Peace in Monument Square during the Veterans Day parade.

Among the Veterans Day parade spectators on Congress Street in Portland are John Beyer of Scarborough, and his 4-year-old son, Kyler.

Jim Thibodeau, left, and his dog, Princess, join Beatrice and LeRoy Dudley at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Congress Street for the Veterans Day parade in Portland. The parade was followed by a 30-minute ceremony outside City Hall.

Members of VFW Post 6859 march through Congress Square during the Veterans Day parade that went from Longfellow Square to City Hall.

Portland Police Maj. James Sweatt and Chief Michael Sauschuck march down Congress Street in the Veterans Day parade.

Mert Rutherford, grand marshal of the 2016 Portland Veterans Day parade, was marching in his 100th parade as a member of the American Legion Harold T. Andrews Post No. 17. The total includes Memorial Day parades.

Members of the Marine Corps League Southern Maine Detachment No. 1324 fire a salute before “Taps” is played outisde City Hall on Veterans Day.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.