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When George Dowland flew into New York City after serving three tours in Vietnam, someone spit on him.
Sunday, surrounded by veterans of all services and hundreds of supporters at the Manchester Veterans Day ceremony– Dowland had a smile on his face.
“This is really a great thing to bring the community together,” said Dowland, who moved to Manchester from Boston 10 years ago. “We never had anything like this. The [American] Legion put on a July Fourth celebration … but nothing like this.”
And it means a lot to the veteran, who spent 1969-1972 in Vietnam before returning home. While there, he lost his friend Quinten E. Mulleavey, whose name is now etched on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall.
“His body was not recovered,” said Dowland, pulling out a piece of paper with Mulleavey’s information from his pocket. “I carry this with me every day.”
That spirit was everywhere on the Manchester square Sunday.
“Our country was built on the blood and sweat of our fellow veterans,” said retired Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Bailey, who was the guest speaker at the ceremony. “I’m confident our country will be safe in the hands [of the students I teach.]”
Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Tom Gerard spoke to the crowd along with Gene Stillings with the Disabled American Veterans. Multiple awards also handed out.