THORNDIKE — The late Harold E. Peterson inspired his granddaughter, Melanie Cole, in many ways. Peterson served eight tours in World War II and left a lasting impression, one that inspired Cole to take extra care for veterans.

On Veterans Day Wednesday, Cole served as the master of ceremonies for a Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Chair of Honor dedication. A picturesque afternoon provided the backdrop for the chair and flag display on a grassy patch off of Mt. View Road in Thorndike.

“He taught us at an early age it didn’t matter how busy you are, you always thank your veterans,” said Cole, an 18-year Thorndike resident. “I think it shows people that the town will always thank our veterans, … whether they come home or not, there’ll always be a place for them.”

The POW/MIA Chair of Honor represents service members who are unable to fill them because of their sacrifices. POW/MIA chairs are located across the country in sports stadiums, town halls and other venues.

Steven Brown plays the bugle during a Veterans Day service Wednesday at the Thorndike Town Office on Mt. View Road. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Cole, 40, filled out the applications and secured the chair for the town. The chairs are made by Hussey Seating, which is headquartered in North Berwick. The chair was donated in exchange for the dedication ceremony, which is the rule for all POW/MIA chair requests.

Cole’s grandfather died in 2012. He served on the beaches of Normandy and across central Europe.


Thorndike’s chair will be in a roped off area in the town office’s community room between the American flag and Maine state flag. Town Clerk Amber Hamblet said the chair will be prominently featured on the town’s Select Board meetings held over Zoom and in-person at future town events.

Around 50 people attended the ceremony, including the Belfast Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3108 color guard, Patriot Riders and the auxiliary.

Cole’s daughter, Hannah, read the poem “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae. Thorndike First and Second selectmen Doreen Berry and Jeff Trafton attended and participated in the ceremony. The color guard shot off a 21-gun salute and taps was played in honor of those who served the United States.

The Belfast VFW color guard Wednesday, Veterans Day, at the Thorndike Town Office on Mt. View Road. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Trafton, also the Waldo County Sheriff, served four years of active duty in the Marine Corps and another 17 years in the Army National Guard reserves.

“It’s heartening for me to see the folks come out and honor those veterans who didn’t come back to live their lives,” Trafton said. “I’m glad there’s going to be a place to recognize them.”

Berry, formerly Thorndike’s town clerk, feels that with the coronavirus pandemic taking up most everyone’s attention, the Veterans Day and POW/MIA Chair of Honor dedication ceremony served as something “better than the normal.”

“It brings the community together, and it’s a great thing to be done to acknowledge our veterans,” Berry said.

Thorndike resident Greg Falzetta, who served more than 17 years in the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps, also shared a few words including the importance of remembering the 479 MIAs from Maine.

“This is always a special day,” Falzetta said. “It honors all military veterans.”

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