Chatham Pauses To Remember Fallen Heroes

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Veterans

A member of Coast Guard Station Chatham puts a floral wreath in the Oyster Pond as a Memorial Day tribute to those lost at sea.  ALAN POLLOCK PHOTOS

CHATHAM Amid the bustle of the holiday weekend, more than 100 people paused Monday to remember those who died in service to the nation.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s honor guard takes its place in Monday’s Memorial Day observance.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s honor guard takes its place in Monday’s Memorial Day observance.

“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.

Laura Barabe sings God Bless America.

Laura Barabe sings God Bless America.

Scott Hamilton reads from the Gettysburg Address.

Scott Hamilton reads from the Gettysburg Address.

Scouts Ashley Anderson and Lir Wood lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Scouts Ashley Anderson and Lir Wood lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Veterans and other citizens salute the flag.

Veterans and other citizens salute the flag.

Behind VFW color guard member Kevin Eldredge, Chatham police and firefighters stand at attention.

Behind VFW color guard member Kevin Eldredge, Chatham police and firefighters stand at attention.

Donald Grunewald places a wreath at the podium to honor his late cousin, who died in World War II.

Donald Grunewald places a wreath at the podium to honor his late cousin, who died in World War II.

Liam Lawless plays Taps to honor fallen veterans.

Liam Lawless plays Taps to honor fallen veterans.