It is hard to believe that our general election is now behind us. All the timing, planning and worry are complete. It is time for all of us to look ahead, work together, achieve great things and unite as one.
By the time you read our story this week, Veterans Day may have come and gone, just like our election.
Veterans Day should be every day. We can never thank the men and women who served our great country, and who are serving our country now throughout the world, enough. Special thanks needs to go to their families, too, for the sacrifices their loved ones’ service has meant for them.
Every time we are preparing for an election or each time we cast a vote, we are thanking our veterans for their service. If it weren’t for them, we would not have the privilege to cast a vote and give our opinion during each election. We are free because of their service and sacrifices. We are free to vote because of them.
Just before our election on Nov. 3, a very special veteran, Donald St. Laurent, was brought to our office in his wheelchair by his loving daughter Denise Richards.
Our office was crazy busy with so many people wanting to vote by absentee ballot and many other people wanting to register to vote. The lines and waiting did not deter Denise and Donald at all. They waited patiently with everyone else, because Donald’s last wish at the age of 90, with deteriorating health, was to cast his vote.
Donald, who has been a registered voter since he turned 18, had never missed an election and he was not going to miss this one no matter what. Completing the paperwork, application and ballot were difficult, but he got the job done.
Sometimes in life, we touch each other’s hearts by just sharing a few minutes in time. On Nov. 5, Denise called our office to let us know that her dad had passed away on Nov. 4, the day after the election. She wanted us to know that the last thing he was able to do was to complete his absentee ballot for the election.
Denise shared with me that her dad proudly served our county in the Korean War between 1948 and 1951. He was part of the 101st Airborne Division, which was known as the Screaming Eagles. Donald was trained as a paratrooper in the Army. Denise loves remembering her dad teasing that they would “jump out of perfectly good airplanes.” It always made them both smile and others around him, too.
Denise told me that later, he became a medical technician working in a make-shift hospital on the front lines. As wounded soldiers were rushed in for medical treatment, Donald would be by their side.
Denise shared with me that when her dad turned 90 on April 26, the Londonderry Fire Department did a drive-by for him. Donald was also honored with a veterans’ pinning ceremony in front of Denise’s home in August. Donald was blessed to have his daughter Denise by his side. Denise made all her dad’s final wishes come true.
Last Saturday with that beautiful 75-degree weather we all shared, John paused as we drove through our towns and said this would have been the day for our Veterans Breakfast and Parade. Events like this happen all over our county on the weekend before, and days leading up to Veterans Day. COVID-19 put the brakes on all those great happenings and so many other things, too. Yet, there are still things we can do.
If we all could just reach out to five veterans and ask them about their service and give them an opportunity to remember and share. The gift of time. Talk to their families, too. We can make a difference. Put a sign on our lawns, send a card, bake them a treat, or bring them a meal. Together we will find new ways to thank our veterans for their service and for the life we live because of them.
Sherry Farrell is Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.