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November 08. 2013 9:36PM

Woodbury School students honor veterans for their military service

Members of the Salem High School Honor Guard honor POW/MIAs during the Woodbury School's annual Veterans Day ceremony. (ADAM SWIFT/Union Leader Correspondent)

SALEM — For the past 15 years, Woodbury School has honored those who served with an annual Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony at the school.

This year's event featured Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, but the most eloquent words were provided by the keynote speaker, Salem firefighter Tom Kelley.

In addition to being a firefighter, Kelley is a Marine and member of the Air National Guard who has served many tours overseas.

Kelley spoke about becoming a Marine 17 years ago and the opportunity it afforded him.

"I was given a gift, and I took that gift and ran with it," said Kelley.

He said that gift was the opportunity to protect his country and family.

"I was deployed overseas and did things I never thought I would do, and saw things I never thought I would see," said Kelley.

The greatest gift Kelley said he received was the support of family, friends, and strangers. Returning home by ship from overseas, he said he was at the railing of the ship and saw thousands of people clapping and cheering.

"That was a gift," Kelley said. "I did not know anyone there, and that meant the world to me."

Hassan spoke about her father, who was a World War II veteran, and the values of strength, resolve and devotion that he had and that Hassan said she sees in other veterans.

"We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be paid, but we will try to do our best," said Hassan.

Ayotte thanked the veterans as well as the families of those who served. She also told the students gathered for the ceremony not to forget those who are still overseas.

"Let's not forget those who are serving overseas and those who are still deployed," she said. "There are still 60,000 serving in Afghanistan. Let's say a prayer that they may come home safely."

In addition to the invited speakers, members of the Salem High School Honor Guard honored POW/MIAs, and several Woodbury students read essays about what Veterans Day means to them.

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