When the chorus sang the opening of the National Anthem, Stephen Richmond stood up from his wheelchair and saluted. A staff member at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough made her way through the crowd at the ceremony in case Richmond needed extra support.

But the U.S. Coast Guard veteran was steady on his feet.

“This is one of the most important days of my life, when I recognize the sacrifice of family, friends and the country,” he said later.

Richmond was among the residents who gathered Friday morning to observe Veterans Day. The staff had other events planned to mark the holiday – a performance by a barbershop quartet, a surf-and-turf luncheon – but this traditional ceremony felt all the more special because it was the first since 2019.

Veterans Ralph Low, left, of the Air Force and Marine Corps, and Raymond Heyse, a former member of the Army, listen to speeches during the Veterans Day event in Scarborough on Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“We say here at the veterans home that every day is Veterans Day,” administrator Maureen Carland said. “But on this day, the entire nation honors its first citizens, those who took a solemn oath to protect and defend all that we hold dear. A veteran is a fellow citizen, an ordinary person who at one significant point in his or her life made a blank check payable to the United States of America for any amount, up to and including life itself.”

The invited speaker was Scarborough Police Chief Mark Holmquist, who served 25 years in the Army, Maine Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. He talked about a defining memory from the early part of his career, when he was a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


It was around Veterans Day 1992, and Holmquist was standing guard while rain poured down on the monument. A man approached the Vietnam War Unknown Soldier memorial. The man was not wearing a raincoat but had an American flag fixed to the back of his wheelchair and wore a Vietnam veteran hat. He faced the marker and wept, but when Holmquist walked past, he saluted.

“Thank you for guarding my friend,” he said to Holmquist.

Holmquist said that moment was a valuable lesson.

“As veterans, we must recognize our duty to preserve the ideals and values taught to us in the military,” he said. “We must share these ideals and values and the stories of our service, our example and the way we conduct ourselves as citizens in the moments when we have the opportunity to teach others about honor.”

Bagpiper George Pulkkinen played “America the Beautiful” and military anthems during the Veterans Day event at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

During a prayer, Richmond took off his navy blue Coast Guard hat. Now 85, he grew up in Maine and Ohio. His older brother served as an Army medic in the Pacific during World War II, and Richmond has not forgotten the day he returned home.

“I can remember the day he came strolling down the street,” he said. “It was a wonderful moment.”


When Richmond turned 17, he joined the Coast Guard and served for 35 years.

“I wanted to rescue people,” he said. “I served on all coasts and in the Great Lakes.”

He retired from the military in 1989 and worked for the city of Portland until 1995. He said Veterans Day honors those who served in the past and inspires those who will serve in the future.

“The young people of today will be the guardians of tomorrow,” he said.

The ceremony ended with taps, and Richmond again stood with the music. He raised his hand in one more salute, sharp and sure.

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