SPRINGVALE — It was cold on Saturday, but the sun shone brightly. In Springvale, it shone on 25 pint-sized American flags, arranged in a three-quarters circle around a monument bearing the name of a local World War I hero. Each flag represents a member of the veteran’s family who has, at one time, volunteered service to their country.

“In memory of Henry Rivard,” reads the inscription. Below that appears an insignia bearing the simple initials: “WWI.”

The monument was unveiled at the Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery to a crowd of about 40 people, a handful of them related to the stone marker’s namesake.

Henry Rivard’s son, Ron ”“ the youngest of 13 children ”“ played the role of host, and had the honor of unveiling his father’s lasting tribute, which has the distinction of being the first in the veteran’s cemetery to be inscribed with the “WWI” designation.

“In my father’s family, there are seven boys and six girls,” said Ron Rivard. “The seven sons followed the lead of our father and all are veterans. … We’re all proud to be a veteran.”

Though certainly an honor for the Rivard family, the ceremony and unveiling had wider implications for the cemetery itself, which opened in 2010. Saturday’s event also kicked off what organizers called “phase two,” which will see a walkway built with memorial stones lining each side of it. Families and military organizations will be able to purchase the memorial stones, which can then be personalized with text and emblems ”“ something impossible to achieve on the traditional marble stones provided by the federal government, which lack the adequate space.

Some veterans in attendance, such as George Kanelos, smiled warmly at the thought of enhancing an already venerable facility.

“This cemetery is just magnificent,” said Kanelos. “It’s just wonderful that we’re out here showing our community support.”

Bob Ouellette, a grandson of Henry Rivard, took the opportunity to share a little of his grandfather’s history, starting with his family’s migration from Canada to the United States in 1897. Rivard joined the Navy in 1917, served in France during the Great War, and upon his return home, married Ouellette’s grandmother in 1920. The couple bought a dairy farm in Springvale, and Rivard went to work delivering milk door-to-door, doing his rounds in the wee hours before the start of school.

Ouellette exhibited notable pride in speaking of his grandfather’s life.

“I’m honored to be part of this ceremony honoring my grandfather,” he said.

Jim Bachelder, head of the cemetery’s memorial committee, said another project ”“ a memorial to display various military emblems ”“ is also in the works.

— Staff Writer Jeff Lagasse can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]

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