Memorial Day gets good play in Maine cities and town, but somehow, Veterans Day gets comparitively little attention. At least that’s the way Joyce Clarkson, adjutant at American Legion Post 83 of Freeport, sees it.
This Veterans Day in Freeport, however, will be different. On Friday, Nov. 11, the Legion will put on a free Veterans Day Concert at First Parish Church Congregational on Main Street. Four local music ensembles will provide music, and the event will introduce everyone to the United Farmer Veterans of Maine, which affords veterans with an opportunity to be farmers.
The Veterans Day Concert begins at 6 p.m. in the church sanctuary, which seats 200 people. Donations will go toward the American Legion’s scholarship, veterans and Boys State programs.
It’s about time to do this, Veilleux said.
“Freeport has not done anything to honor Veterans Day for as long as I can remember,” said Veilleux, who has organized veterans’ events for years. “Memorial Day is for remembering the deceased. Veterans Day is for honoring the living.”
The Freeport Middle School band, the saxophone quartet Cul de Sax and the local choruses the Greater Freeport Community Chorus and Pine Tree Coastal Winds will provide the music. Cul de Sax includes Police Chief Susan Nourse, who plays alto saxophone and sings soprano. Paul Aliapoulius, who also plays alto sax, Jim Huebener on tenor sax and Chris Gutscher on baritone sax round out the quartet.
The event will include a presentation on the United Farmer Veterans of Maine, between acts.
Veilleux said that the United Farmer Veterans of Maine, organized in June 2015, does great work for many veterans returning home from the service who might not have occupations, or might even be homeless.
“They’re finding that working with their hands, working with the soil and working with animals is not only therapeutic, but makes them productive members of society,” she said. “It’s a wonderful concept. It has a great success rate.”
The veterans group will have a display at the church, and founder Jerry Ireland of Swanville will talk. The audience also will hear the stories of two people who have enjoyed success through the program.
Ireland, a retired Army sergeant, described a remarkable process that United Farmer Veterans of Maine has set up, in hopes of constructing 300 cottages for veterans to live in and work out of, on Maine farms owned by fellow veterans. The “22 2-by-4 Campaign,” started three weeks ago, asks people to donate $66, with the goal of raising $1.5 million to build the cottages. The veterans who will inhabit the 15-by-20-foot cottages and work on the farms will be contributing, as well.
“You take a veteran with nothing or a five-star veteran and in six months or more he can be on his own, with land to start farming,” Ireland said. “They get $10-$12 an hour to work or do chores on the farm in addition to a place to live. A veteran could put away hundreds of dollars a month in the bank. For $4,000 down, members will finance a 20-acre parcel. The veterans can build their own cottages and have something to start with.”
Ireland said that three cottages are under construction, and they can be built as fast as the money comes in at $5,000 per cottage. Hammond Lumber is a partner in the campaign, he said.
“On the other end, established farmers are hurting for dependable employees, and this will help,” Ireland said.
Ireland, 40, worked at the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon. He also served combat duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. He owns an 80-acre farm with a dairy cow, beef cows, hogs, chickens, 4 acres of produce, maple trees for syrup and 300 apple trees.
The saxophone group Cul de Sax is one of four musical ensembles that will perform during a Veterans Day concert at First Parish Church Congregational in Freeport. From left are Jim Huebener, Paul Aliapoulius, Freeport Police Chief Susan Nourse and Chris Gutscher.
Jerry Ireland, founder of United Farmer Veterans of Maine, at his farm in Swanville. The group will make a presentation dudring a Veterans Day concert in Freeport