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Senior Correspondent

Independence Day for the United States of America came on July 4, 1776, declaring our independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. We celebrate that historic event today with parades, fireworks, picnics, concerts and family reunions. Our Declaration of Independence has always been the cornerstone of who we are as a nation.

But as all Americans know and understand, we paid the supreme price for that moment in history, and continue to do so today by the sacrifice of our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, all who fought to preserve those freedoms. One only has to visit our cemeteries on Memorial Day to witness our American flag that adorns the gravesites of our fallen men and women who served our country since the very beginning of our birth as a nation, defending its freedoms at home and abroad in the many wars fought on our very soil and other parts of the world. In silent reverence we honor our departed military, where valor proudly rests. Taps are played by a solo trumpeter as a moment of silence is observed by all in attendance.

Some of the most revered patriotic songs are played as a symbol of who we are and what we stand for as a nation. Most especially, our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," "God Bless America," and "America the Beautiful." In the midst of all of the celebrations, is a place we call our final resting place on earth.

With great reverence, the state of New Hampshire designed and created a special place of honor for our fallen men and women veterans who justly deserve to be recognized and remembered. It's the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, located on 110 Daniel Webster Highway in Boscawen, N.H. This magnificent plot of land is home to many, and yet I feel many of our veterans are unaware of its existence and availability. Its message is profoundly clear, "Welcome Home." We revere these sacred and hallowed grounds.

The cemetery opened in 1997 and there currently are 5,600 veterans and eligible dependents interred there. Two major attractions for visitors, besides visiting graves and paying honor to those interred, are 20 Points of N.H. Military History and the Memorial Walkway. The cemetery has a wonderful and informative website: http://www.nhsvc.com/. On the website, readers can find detailed information on applying to be interred there, special ceremonies conducted by veterans groups, pictures, etc. Every year on Memorial Day, May 30, a special ceremony is held at 11 a.m.

About the Director

Michael W. Horne has been director of the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery since October 2008. As director, he is responsible for the overall operations and supervision of the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery (NHSVC) encompassing 104 acres in Boscawen, N.H., 14 acres are currently developed. Mike works for the deputy adjutant general of N.H., and is responsible for interacting with senior legislators and leaders of state veteran's organizations. He liaisons with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration (NCA) on veteran eligibility criteria, construction grants, and other NCA requirements.

Mike's military career began with the United States Air Force in 1975, where he served four years. He then joined the N.H. Air National Guard in 1980 where he served 28 years, retiring as a colonel in March 2008.

He is a member of various veteran's organizations, the New Hampshire and New England Cemetery Association(s) and serves as an advisor to the New Hampshire State Veterans Advisory Committee. His commitment to our veterans is second to none.

A Poem, So True

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast, And he sat around the Legion, Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in And the deeds that he had done, In his exploits with his buddies, They were heroes, every one.

And though sometimes to his neighbors His tales became a joke, All his buddies listened quietly for they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer, For ol' Joe has passed away, And the world's a little poorer for a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many, Just his children and his wife. For he lived an ordinary, Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family, going quietly on his way; And the world won't note his passing, though a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, Their bodies lie in state, While thousands note their passing, And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories, From the time that they were young, But the passing of a soldier, Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land, Some jerk who breaks his promise And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow Who in times of war and strife, Goes off to serve his country, And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend And the style in which he lives, Are often disproportionate, to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier, Who offered up his all, Is paid off with a medal And perhaps a pension small.

It is not the politicians, With their compromise and ploys, Who won for us the freedom, That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, With your enemies at hand, Would you really want some cop-out, With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a soldier His home, his country, his kind, Just a common soldier, Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier, and his ranks are growing thin, But his presence should remind us, We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict, We find the Soldier's part, Is to clean up all the trouble That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor While he's here to hear the praise, Then at least let's give him homage At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline, In the paper that might say: "Our country Is in Mourning, A Soldier Died Today."

— Author Unknown

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