By Beth David
Tropical downspours may have pushed people off the streets, but that did not stop the town of Fairhaven from commemorating Memorial Day. Organizers moved the activities to the town hall auditorium, and held the program that would have taken place at Riverside Cemetery.
Gayla M.D. Reilly, a 20-year US Navy veteran, emceed the event, with remarks by George Brownell, a Vietnam veteran and officer of the day, and guest speaker Brent Fike, a Lieutenant in the US Coast Guard.
The honor roll of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the town of Fairhaven were read. The First Congregational Church Choir sang and the Fairhaven High School band played musical selections. FHS Senior Class presdient Alec Plante read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Fairhaven Selectboard Chairperson Charles Murphy read General Logan’s Order #11, which created the Memorial Day holiday in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended.
Fr. Bob Charlton from St. Joseph Church delivered the opening and closing prayers.
Boy Scouts stood vigil by the stage in the auditorium as speakers addressed a small audience.
Ms. Reilly pointed out the Scouts for thanks, calling them the “future leaders” of the country.
Mr. Brownell told the crowd to remember the families of those who were killed, too.
“Please honor Vietnam Veterans,” said Mr. Brownell. “And all veterans who have served honorably to honor you.”
Lt. Fike said that Memorial Day is to give the respect and honor that fallen military personnel deserve.
He said the family members should also be remembered, and that the emptiness from the hole in their hearts annot be filled.
He said the day is to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and not for barbecues.
It is about those who sacrificed and fought for “your right to assemble, vote, and choose your religion, to be free Americans,” said Lt. Fike.
He said Americans “often do not observe the day the way we should.”
“Memorial Day is a day of national mourning,” said Lt. Fike, and asked that everyone observe a moment of silence at three o’clock, visit a memorial, or do something else to commemorate the day.
He ended by reading “Old Glory,” a poem about the US flag.
“I stand for peace, honor truth and justice. I stand for freedom. I am confident. I am arrogan. I am proud…I am the flag of the United States of America.”
Manual Manica and Daniele Medeira had traveled from Fall River as part of a group for the ceremony.
“It was nice, it was very moving,” said Ms. Medeira. “We don’t often listen to the Gettysburg Address or about Old Glory. And seeing the military was very sobering, how they are there for each other, and the anthem.”
Mr. Manica said it was good to get away from the marketing of cars and other goods.
“Let’s remember what it’s about,” he said. “The men and women who put themselves in harm’s way.”
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