We’re so close to the traditional unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, that many of us can already taste the burgers and hot dogs grilling on the barbecue. Although it’s only Wednesday some have been checking the weekend weather forecast so often already, Jim Cantore called to ask if we’re okay (and to see if should bring a covered dish or something to the barbecue Monday).
We’re so set on getting our Summer On we might lose sight of what Memorial Day was intended to be, and, for some still is. Some of us have parents who can remember when Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and even farther back than that, it was an attempt to honor the war dead of the War Between the States, evolving into a remembrance of all of those men and women in uniform who sacrificed their lives to preserve our liberties.
Across the country and throughout Norwich we’ll have memorials and remembrances. My family lives close to Chelsea Parade, close enough I regularly walk among the various markers where Broadway and Washington Street separate to this city’s war dead in all the conflicts which have both shaped and shaken our nation. I fully expect to join others there for a moment of silence and reflection for sacrifices past that makes today and all of my tomorrows possible.
And I hope you, too, have an opportunity to remember. If I may, I’d suggest a perfect moment to say thanks would be this Monday morning at ten at the Memorial Park in Taftville, next door to the Knights of Columbus Hall on South Second Avenue.
Each year, the Taftville American Legion Post 104, the ceremony organizers, honors a Taftville resident who gave his life during wartime. This year Chief Motor Machinist Mate Leo Bedard who died on USS Grunion (SS-216) in July 1942 will be remembered.
The organizers are welcoming members of the Bedard family, and the day will be that much more special if an even larger than usual attendance helps underscore how much we value the Chief’s sacrifice.
Ceremonies like this, the Wreath Laying at Little Plains Park Memorial at eleven, and the Memorial Day Parade at noon at The Cathedral of Saint Patrick are poor compensation for the dreams and lives many in uniform sacrificed for opportunities and privileges many of us take for granted.
Freedom has a price and each generation learns its cost. Memorial Day is our thank you to the heroes who paid the price. But we should ask ourselves what is our responsibility to them? We live in a world of instantaneous communication and television sound bites where history and news are often confused with trends and ephemera that make memories meaningless.
On Memorial Day, we honor and remember all in military service who died because freedom is our most precious gift. Our heroes forfeited their lives for that belief and their sacrifice demands that we live as engaged and energized citizens who deserved their sacrifice because we do.