John Powers stood proudly to accept his honor.

That honor, a gift presented during Londonderry's annual veterans breakfast last Saturday, celebrated his elder status as the oldest veteran in the room — 101 years old and a World War II Army veteran.

Powers was joined by veterans representing all aspects of military service at the breakfast at Londonderry High, presented by student members of the Pay It Forward Club as a yearly way to say thank you. More than 200 veterans and guests filled the high school cafeteria.

Londonderry was joined by surrounding communities all showing respect for those who served and honoring veterans with services, breakfasts and other special celebrations.

Some veterans come to the Londonderry breakfast every year; many say they meet old friends and make new ones.

"I look forward to this," said John Collins of Londonderry. "It's good to meet everybody. It makes you feel appreciated."

Derry Vietnam War veteran Tony Bruno shared a breakfast table with Collins.

"I'm meeting people I never knew before," Bruno said, adding it's a common thread running through veterans to share time and stories.

Ralph Cassel of Derry, an Air Force veteran of World War II, said he appreciates what towns do to honor their soldiers.

"It's amazing," he said, "how the people in this area take care of their veterans."

Scattered on breakfast tables were handmade notes and cards created by students to thank the veterans attending.

High school student Chris Tutt told veterans the breakfast is a simple way to offer respect and thanks.

"It's our way of remember you all," Tutt said, "and please remember how thankful we all are."

Other area schools presented breakfasts and tributes for Veterans Day including Pinkerton Academy and West Running Brook Middle School, both in Derry.

Other schools held flag-raising ceremonies and patriotic assemblies.

Windham's Golden Brook Elementary School welcomed veterans and their families for an afternoon assembly last week. Students sang patriotic songs and presented cards and gifts to those attending.

In Derry, Pinkerton Academy and its students also hosted a Veterans Day breakfast Monday morning to help kick off the special day. The school also received an honor from local veterans for the 25 years Pinkerton has presented its breakfast.

Later, the traditional services were held at MacGregor Park in Derry, with veterans, special speakers and a Town Council proclamation making up the service program.

The Rev. Ray Bonin of the Church of the Transfiguration in Derry, led a worship service at St. Luke's United Methodist Church prior to the park service, telling veterans "they served for something greater than themselves."

"You sacrificed, you all understand the sacrifice you made," Bonin said. "Your whole lives are different because you are veterans."

Derry Town Councilor Jim Morgan read a town proclamation to honor Veterans Day and added it was his pleasure and honor to recognize veterans for their "legacy of profound service and sacrifice."

Derry veterans then hosted an open house at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 1617 post home, then visited veterans living at local nursing and retirement homes including Pleasant Valley Nursing Home, Aurora Senior Living and Birch Heights.

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