A northwestern Vermont community spent this Veterans Day saying thank you to service members. In downtown St. Albans, a ceremony and speaking program followed a parade around Taylor Park.
The observance crossed generations, with one of the nation’s rapidly-declining number of World War II vets there — 97-year-old Bob Coon.
“The percentage is getting lower every year,” Coon lamented of his peers who served during World War II.
Many students were also in attendance, including high school senior Elora Menard. Menard said she hopes to possibly become a pilot with the Vermont Air National Guard.
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“I really appreciate how people have protected me,” Menard said, describing why Veterans Day is important to her. “This day is very important, but I feel it should be every day that we make a point of saying, in a grocery store — anywhere you see someone and you know if they’re a service member — to say ‘thank you,’ because they really do deserve it.”
That kind of recognition is really meaningful to Coon, who parachuted into occupied Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He said he is glad to know how so many young people will remember his generation.
“Just with respect, I hope,” Coon said. “With respect — as we remember the generations before us.”
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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, cheered 2022’s bipartisan PACT Act, which newly extended VA health care and benefits to several million veterans who were exposed to military burn pits and other toxic substances.
“We also want to expand veterans’ health care to include dental care,” Sanders said in response to a question from NECN & NBC10 Boston about his remaining priorities for veterans. “I want to see us strengthen the community-based outreach clinics here in Vermont and do everything we can to make sure that the VA hospital in White River remains strong.”
Coon said a good way to thank a veteran is to commit ourselves to uplifting our communities, like through volunteering for charities, civic groups, or schools.