CHATHAM — Amid the bustle of the holiday weekend, more than 100 people paused Monday to remember those who died in service to the nation.
“This is not just another three-day weekend,” said SPC Ted Miller, U.S. Army, Ret., who led the Memorial Day observance at the community center. Those who took time to attend the commemoration already know the meaning of the holiday, he noted. “You honor our fallen simply by your presence here today,” he said.
In years past, the observance involved a parade between the six downtown war memorials, though the event now happens mainly at the community center to make it easier for older people to attend. Miller acknowledged the World War I memorial outside the community center, which lists by name the local men “who left their daily tasks among us” to serve. The World War II memorial at Nickerson Park does not list names, but Miller acknowledged three local men – Pvt. Robert Brown, Staff Sgt. Roland James and Pvt. Robert Buck – who gave their lives during the war. The local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars bears their names.
“It’s been 50 years since I returned from Vietnam,” Miller said. The town’s memorial to the Korean and Vietnam wars is near the Oyster Pond and remembers veterans who are often forgotten, or who never received a proper welcome home. “Those who served honorably were not treated well when they returned,” Miller noted.
The Civil War memorial is at Sears Park, and to remember those who died in the War Between the States, resident Scott Hamilton, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, recited an excerpt from the Gettysburg Address.
The commemoration included prayers by the Rev. Brian McGurk of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, and the singing of the National Anthem by Laura Barabe. The crew of Coast Guard Station Chatham provided the honor guard, with members of the VFW and American Legion providing a salute to the nation’s war dead. Girl Scout Ashley Anderson and Boy Scout Lir Wood led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Sara Marchio and Liam Lawless provided music on the bagpipes and trumpet. Monomoy Middle School Student Caleb Rodrigues read an excerpt from “In Flanders Fields.”
Miller acknowledged those who gave their lives for the nation in battles around the globe.
“They served a purpose larger than themselves,” he said. “We also owe them a promise,” to work toward peace for future generations, Miller said.