Nevins honors veterans with ceremony
Samuel Masessa sang the National Anthem during Sunday afternoon's Memorial Day Ceremony at Nevins Active Adult Community in Londonderry. (APRIL GUILMET)
World War II veteran Captain Martin Gelb, 93, of Derry, accepted a plaque from Bill Graser, organizer of Sunday's Memorial Day Ceremony at the Nevins Active Adult Community in Londonderry. (APRIL GUILMET)
A group of costumed military re-enactors present the colors during Sunday afternoon’s Memorial Day ceremony at Nevins Active Adult Community in Londonderry. (APRIL GUILMET)
Karey and Bob Barber of Bedford modeled vintage military uniforms Sunday afternoon, during a Memorial Day ceremony at Nevins Active Adult Community in Londonderry. The couple have collected over 70 uniforms over the years, and are often called upon to outfit local historical re-enactors. (APRIL GUILMET)
Local company helps preserve veterans' stories
LONDONDERRY -- For many, Memorial Day is a time for barbecues and family trips to the beach. And that's OK, said Londonderry veteran Bill Graser.
“Maybe that's how it should be,” said Graser, a resident at Nevins Active Adult Community. “But for many of us in the older generation, I think it's also our responsibility to pass on our stories.”
On Sunday afternoon, Graser, a retired Army sergeant first class, paused with his neighbors in the close-knit senior citizen community to honor those who served. The Nevins community is home to a high number of veterans, and with that in mind, Graser and his friends have organized poignant Memorial Day ceremonies over the past several years.
This year, special recognition was given to the women who have entered the ranks: Graser said servicewomen have all too often been history's unsung heroes.
“But their stories are all true. They're there in the history books if you look closely enough,” said Graser.
Among the stories shared Sunday was the tale of Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man in 1778 and volunteered to serve in the Revolutionary War-era Army.
Sampson served for three years and was wounded twice. Still, her true identity went undetected until she was stricken with fever and the attending physician discovered this brave young soldier was, in fact, a lady.
“In the history books, sometimes the stories are shortened because sadly, not all of their contributions were ever recorded,” Graser said.
Later, the Nevins neighbors took a moment to honor the heroes from within their own midst.
World War II veteran Martin Gelb, 93, the father of Nevins resident Nancy Sag, was presented with a plaque honoring his many accomplishments as an Army captain.
The plaque was adorned with the many ribbons and medals Gelb earned during his years of service. “Most of them are originals that had been sitting in a bag since the end of the second World War,” Graser said.
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