Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Town of Sandwich Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration

I was pleased to be asked by the American Legion to speak at this year's Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration. It was a perfect weather day and we had a great turn out.

Fred Sozio, Korean War Veteran, was the parade marshal. He received a long and loud applause when Will Rogers, American Legion Commander, introduced him. Everyone also welcomed US Navy Captain (Retired) Barbara Knight, Patricia DeConto (whose son, Capt. Gerald DeConto, was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001), and Jane Ellis, who sang God Bless America.

Police Chief Peter Wack gave a stirring reminder of the people who we should keep in our thoughts and prayers on Memorial Day, including first responders who gave their lives assisting others.

Lt. Travis Andrade spoke about the fundamental reason we engage in military action: To preserve our freedoms, not to destroy our enemies. He provided many current and historical references to bolster his points and delivered his address impeccably.

PFC LaRiviera of the Nicholas Xiarhos Young Marines led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Sandwich High School Chorus sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

The bell tolled for all of our Town of Sandwich veterans who passed away since last year's Memorial Day Commemoration. Wreaths were laid, 21-gun salutes honored the dead, and Taps was played by bugler Robbi Laak.

My speech follows:

My sincerest thank you goes out to the members of the American Legion Post 188 who coordinate this Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration. This event is a symbol of their allegiance to our fallen troops, many of whom have been relatives, friends and acquaintances of the legionnaires who are here today.

I also welcome all of our parade participants and observers, especially those of you who are senior citizens and youngsters, for it shows that you are never too old to honor the sacrifices of our military servicemen and women, and you are never too young to start learning about those who fought for our freedoms.

In Massachusetts, the fight to be an independent country goes back to the shot heard ‘round the world. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought on April 19, 1775, more than a year before our declaration of independence. Four days later, the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was formed and later joined by militias and armies from across the thirteen colonies to shed British rule and give birth to the United States of America.

We gather on this day to pay tribute to the 25,000 people who lost their lives in the Revolutionary War;

to the 15,000 in the War of 1812;

to the 625,000 in the Civil War—some say many more and it is the war that inspired Memorial Day;

to the 117,000 in World War I;

to the 405,000 in World War II;

to the 37,000 in the Korean War;

to the 58,000 in the Vietnam War;

to the 2,000 in Afghanistan;

to the 4,500 in Iraq;

and to the 33,000 others who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our country in numerous other conflicts since the birth of this nation.

Every one of those 1,300,000 brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen, and merchant marines left grieving families and friends who knew them for who they were and what they stood for. They were casualties of war, yes. They were counted and logged, yes. But they were not statistics.

No, they were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. They were people who had their futures cut short because they put themselves in harm’s way to defend our way of life. Our freedoms. Our liberty.

It is in honor and memory of these brave souls that we take time out of our busy schedules to honor our dead on Memorial Day. And it is fitting that we follow these somber moments of commemoration with fellowship, food, drink, and family activities. Just keep in mind those who gave their all to ensure that we keep these freedoms.

I will conclude with a short poem entitled “No Need To Fear.”

There is no need to fear for me,
For it is my will and my duty to serve.
I will always carry your love with me,
As it helps steady my nerve.

There is no need to fear for me,
For even if I shall not return,
On that day I will meet Him.
His grace and forgiveness I will earn.

There is no need to fear for me,
For this is my calling and my choice.
I rise to protect our freedoms
And give Liberty her voice. – Randy Hunt 2013

Thank you for being here today. God bless our troops and God bless America.

Photos by Gerry Nye, Town Constable