SKOWHEGAN — Every year Skowhegan residents gather at Veterans’ Park next to Town Hall on Memorial Day to remember the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

But this year, instead of following the traditional format and having a keynote speaker, the organizing committee decided to honor local people who have served both in the military and at home.

“I thought, let’s present living veterans who have served and are continuing to serve in their community,” said Joel Cummings, a daytime sergeant for the Skowhegan Police Department who was part of the committee that decided to change the format. “It’s also a chance to honor those who came home.”

The committee, made up of Steven Spaulding, Cory King, Rev. Mark Tanner and Bob Mercer, tried to honor at least one person from a variety of service organizations, such as the police department and medical organizations.

“We are here today because of them. We are here today because of the names you see on this granite,” Tanner said before the crowd of people who stood among the pavers marked with the names of those who gave everything for the United States. When asked to raise their hands if they were a veteran, more than 20 arms went up.

Among those who attended the event were House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, Skowhegan Selectman Betty Austin, Town Manager Christine Almand, Sam Warren from Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s office and Tom McCarthy of McCarthy Enterprises, who spearheaded the effort to create Veterans’ Park.

King, who worked for the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce and will be working for the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, named and honored the five local veterans.

Those recognized were Gary Paradis, who has served 17 years and is still active in the Air National Guard and has worked as a paramedic at Redington Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan for 26 years; John P. York, who was in the Army National Guard for 13 years and has been a state trooper in Maine for five years; Katelyn Treylino, who was in the Air National Guard for more than eight years and is now a detective of two and a half years with the Skowhegan police; and Charles Hogan, who was in the Air Force for four years and has been a flight nurse with Lifeflight of Maine for more than three years, where he cares for and transports critically injured patients.

Cummings was the fifth honored, having served in the Army for more than six years and worked in the Skowhegan Police Department for more than 26 years.

Treylino said she appreciated the effort to put together the ceremony and being honored. Hogan said he was “humbled” when he was asked to participate. He continues to work in a service-based field because he likes helping people, and “it’s a very rewarding job,” he said.

King said it was important for everyone, especially young people, to understand the value of service and put faces to the people who have served the community and the country.

“It’s so important to make the connection … to realize how much service these people give even after their service abroad,” he said before the ceremony began.

McCarthy also honored and thanked Ann and Steven Spaulding for their dedication to and work on Veterans’ Park. Their names will be put on lightposts in two corners of the park.

“Volunteers are the largest asset that a small community has,” McCarthy said.

The ceremony started when the parade honoring veterans finished in front of the park on Water Street.

The grey skies and forecast of rain didn’t stop lifetime Skowhegan residents from watching the annual parade down Madison Avenue.

“It’s important to stop and honor the folks who gave their lives for us,” Toni Jo Leaisdell said. Leaisdell is a Skowhegan resident who’s watched the parade every year for more than 40 years.

Another Skowhegan resident, Jada Barton, has also watched the parade every year since she was a kid. Now she brings her family along to remember veterans and to enjoy the day with the community.

Skowhegan police led the way for floats and vehicles representing local businesses and organizations that threw candy out to the kids lined up along the sidewalks. The Skowhegan Area High School Band played martial music down the streets, as well as “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony in the park.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter:@madeline_violet


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