WILTON — Veterans, family members, friends and officials gathered Sunday afternoon at the monument on Main Street to recognize Memorial Day.

State Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, welcomed those who had gathered in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

“As we celebrate this 150th Memorial Day, the rights and freedoms that we so often take for granted are still under attack, both on our soil and abroad, which is why it is just as important to recognize the brave men and women who put their lives on the line daily to protect this great land we all cherish,” Black said.

He spoke of the first Memorial Day, proclaimed by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, as a way to honor those who had died in the Civil War.

Known then as Decoration Day, the first recognition was held May 30, 1868.

“It wasn’t until after World War I that Americans began to honor the dead from all American wars with the celebration of Memorial Day,” Black said. “As Mainers, we know the price of freedom all too well. Our soldiers have heroically fought and died in every war from the Revolutionary War to today’s War on Terror.

“During the Civil War, Maine played a critical role for the Union, supplying manpower, supplies, ships and arms. Fast forward to modern times: In 2011, Maine had the highest casualty rate per-capita of any state in the war in Afghanistan. Our state continues to have one of the highest percentages of veterans in the United States.”

Skip Thompson, a Korean War veteran and Wilton resident, placed a wreath at the monument.

The Rev. David W. Smith, pastor of the Wilton Congregational Church, offered a prayer.

World War II veteran Francis Palin, of Jay, and formerly of Wilton, dropped a wreath into Wilson Stream.

Trooper Jacob Roddy of the Maine State Police and Wilton police Officer Kevin Lemay then led a procession to the Wilton Lions Club hall.

Wilton resident and Vietnam War veteran Frank Harris and Matthew Smith, commander of American Legion Roderick-Crosby Post 28 in Farmington, placed a wreath at a monument there.

Smith then offered another prayer, after which Paul Harnden played taps.

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