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LYNN — Former U.S. Army Sgt. Phil Saindon was one of more than 300 veterans recognized in Lynn’s Veterans Day Ceremony at City Hall Monday morning.
But Saindon, 73, who served as a combat engineer in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, said appreciation for veterans shouldn’t be reserved for Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They should be thanked every day.
“America should be thankful for every veteran that wore the uniform, whether in peacetime or combat,” said Saindon. “We probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our veterans protecting our freedoms and rights as Americans.”
Saindon said he joined the Army because he felt a need to serve the country. He received a purple heart for his efforts in Vietnam after he was wounded in the leg by a 122 rocket while he was on Landing Zone Nancy.
Despite the violence and difficult weather, Saindon said he has no regrets about being in the military.
“If I I had to do it all over again, I would,” he said.
Saindon, a Salem resident, was not the only member of his family involved in Monday’s ceremony, which was preceded by a breakfast for veterans served by city officials. His granddaughter, a Lynn English High School student, was performing in the Lynn Public Schools band.
But efforts were made to ensure that the focus of the program remained on the veterans, according to Michael Sweeney, Lynn veteran services director.
Elected officials, including Mayor Thomas M. McGee and City Council President Darren Cyr, kept their remarks brief.
The bulk of the program consisted of having veterans come on stage to share their name, rank, and where and when they served. Some chose to share stories of their time in service. Each was given a commemorative pin as part of the recognition.
“Most veterans may not want to say a lot about themselves or speak about themselves, but where they served and what branch, they’re really proud about (that),” Sweeney said. “For the community to receive it and be so welcoming, especially for some of our Vietnam veterans who may not have been welcomed home when they came home, it’s a great experience.”
The event reinforces the notion that veterans are such a big part of the community, Sweeney said.
Dean Robinson served in the U.S. Army as a radio communications crew chief for a Persian missile unit in Germany in 1970. It was peace time, but tensions were high because of the Cold War, he said.
His father, Harvey Robinson, is a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. To this day, his dad, now 94, doesn’t like to talk about the bad things he experienced and prefers to focus on the good.
“We appreciate the city of Lynn for doing this,” said Dean Robinson. “(It’s important) for people to remember there is a force ready to step up and make sure we’re safe.”
The ceremony paused at 11 a.m., to commemorate the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, or the exact moment the guns fell silent to mark the end of World War I in 1918.
The day became known as Armistice Day to recognize World War I veterans and was changed to Veterans Day in the 1950s, to honor those who have served in all wars.
The program also included a performance by the Lynn English High School Marine Corps JROTC team, a singing of patriotic songs by Gayle Bastarache, and a reading from Jayla Walsh, a student at Sacred Heart School.