Today, in honor of Memorial Day, I am sharing with you the speech I am giving at our town’s Memorial Day ceremony this morning.
Good morning and greetings from the Kiwanis Club of East Bridgewater. It is my privilege and honor to come here this morning and represent the nearly 70 members of our club at the East Bridgewater Memorial Day Exercises. Kiwanis has a rich history of supporting the service men and women of our community, not only through our annual Veteran’s Day dinner held every November, but through our Field of Flags event as well.
As I stand here, I can’t help but remember being here earlier this month for the 10th Annual Frank Harlow Day. My husband Dale and I, along with Civil War reenactors from the 22nd and 29th MVI and the people of East Bridgewater and the surrounding communities, spent that day honoring the memory of Frank Harlow and the other soldiers from East Bridgewater who volunteered to serve the Union in the Civil War. We dressed in reproduction uniforms and clothing, we set up tents, and we demonstrated camp life during the Civil War. The soldiers drilled and the ladies knit and sewed and we did our best to teach the people who attended what that time was like in East Bridgewater and beyond.
As part of the activities of the day, we invited those attending to enlist in the 29th Massachusetts. Those who do this – many of them small children – are given the name of a soldier that served in that unit. They sign enlistment papers and they are encouraged to find out what happened to the soldier they are portraying. At around noon, when the company forms up, roll is called. As each soldier’s name is read there is an answer of “present, sir.” Some of those voices are loud and strong and some of them are so quiet you can barely hear them but they all respond and just for that moment – that one, brief moment – that soldier is remembered. It is my favorite part of the day.
And really, that is what Memorial Day is all about. We gather here, as others do across our country, and we remember the fallen soldiers who served our town. We read their names printed in the program and inscribed on our monuments, we speak their names aloud to our friends and neighbors, we silently remember our own loved ones who served and are now gone from us and for each of those moments, those soldiers are remembered.
In a short while we will leave here and go about enjoying the rest of this day. We will gather with family and friends at cook outs and we will laugh and tell stories, eat and drink and celebrate a quintessentially American holiday. As you do that, though, I want to challenge you to remember. Remember the soldiers of East Bridgewater. Remember those who fell in battle, those who came home with stories beyond comprehension, those who lived out a quiet life here in our town, always conscious of the friends they had lost. Say their names aloud and remember the sacrifices they made for us.
On behalf of the Kiwanis Club of East Bridgewater, I wish you all a peaceful and happy Memorial Day. Thank you.