LACONIA, N.H. -- There were two Memorial Day processions in Laconia yesterday.
One featured marching bands as a tribute to America's war dead. The second featured a shiny white pickup carrying the flag-draped casket of an American killed in Iraq: Army Private First Class Nicholas Cournoyer.
The traditional parade marched a block away from St. Joseph Church, where the organist played, ``Let There Be Peace on Earth" and mourners heard the 25-year-old from Gilmanton remembered as a tough soldier with a soft heart.
``He would be talking about taking it to our enemy, and whooping some [expletive], and then there would be a little puppy on the side of the road, and he would say, `Ahh. Look at the little puppy,' in his deep voice," wrote Cournoyer's sergeant and squad leader, Ryan O'Connor.
At the Mass, Cournoyer's friend, Tom Noe, read O'Connor's message .
O'Connor wrote of the roadside bomb blast May 18 that killed Cournoyer, three other soldiers, and their Iraqi interpreter, and that brought members of their 10th Mountain Division to tears.
The Rev. Gary Kosmowski noted that enlisting in the Army during a troublesome time, as Cournoyer did, is unsettling ``because you just never know who will have to pay the ultimate price for freedom.
``All give some and some give all, and Nick, along with 11 others from our Granite State, gave all to Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Kosmowski.
Kosmowski honored other fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.
``Today, we commemorate those men and woman who died in military service for this great land of ours," he said. ``Nick will be listed among those who we commemorate on this day."
Memorial Day was the earliest Cournoyer's family could arrange for the service.
But their loss heightened the meaning of the day.
``It's more important than ever for all of us to honor our soldiers, and not just the retired veterans, but the guys that are there fighting for us right now," Cournoyer's sister, Natalie, said during the weekend.
The family asked area residents to donate items to Cournoyer's unit, which will be in Iraq until August.
Nicholas Cournoyer graduated from Gilford High School in 2000 and worked as a mason's assistant after graduation.
In his high school yearbook, he listed joining the military as one of his goals. He enlisted in January 2005.
Natalie Cournoyer drove the pickup carrying her brother's coffin to the cemetery.
``He was very proud of it," Noe said of the truck. ``He had just paid it off."
At the grave site, soldiers folded the flag that covered Cournoyer's coffin and gave it to his mother, who hugged it tightly as her husband received their son's military medals.