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U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., addressed a gathering of veterans, their families and residents from New Hampshire and Vermont, who gathered Friday at the North Haverhill Fairgrounds. (BOB HOOKWAY)

Ayotte praises first responders, veterans

HAVERHILL - "They don't know, when they leave the house, what the day will bring," U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told a gathering of veterans, their families and residents from New Hampshire and Vermont, who gathered Friday at the North Haverhill Fairgrounds.

Part of five days of ceremonies and observances connected to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute - and timed to conclude on Monday - the events Friday were planned to honor emergency responders, including police, firefighters, ambulance crews, dispatchers and all who answer the call for help in communities.

Speakers included Kim McCarthy, president of New England's Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) chapter. McCarthy's husband, Jim, was a New Hampshire State Trooper who in 1994, was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo, and Perry Plummer, director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services, also addressed the gathering.

Ayotte said before she went to Washington, she got a close look at the critical work first responders perform when she served as New Hampshire Attorney General. Before that, she headed the AG's Homicide Unit, and was closely involved in some of the state's most publicized cases, including police fatalities.

But the ceremonies since Thursday have been devoted primarily to veterans. Ayotte declared herself "blessed" to be the wife of a U.S. serviceman. Pointing out that 1 percent of the nation's population joins the military that "protects the rest of us," the senator said a tribute to veterans, along with honoring civil first responders, is appropriate on this weekend.

"Without you, we wouldn't be standing here today," she told them.

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