A wreath is laid in Meredith Bay in honor of those who died at sea in service to their country. (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
May 30, 2018MEREDITH — A series of processions and ceremonies on Memorial Day honored the courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives to the service of their country.
American Legion Post 33 led a series of Memorial Day observances on Wednesday with an honor guard procession and ceremonies at local cemeteries culminating with a parade down Main street to the Meredith Public Library and down to Hesky Park.
The Post 33 Honor Guard led the parade, which also featured local scouts, the marching bands from Inter-Lakes High School and Elementary School, classic autos, and many more. The parade ended at the Meredith Public Library for a special ceremony.
Elliott Finn, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, talked about the sacrifices made during World War II. He said in the 20 months of World War I, a total of 53,402 servicemembers died, around 2,670 every month. In the 20 months of Korea, a sobering 43,739 American soldiers died, and 47,434 died in the 228 months of the Vietnam War.
Finn said after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which claimed the lives of 2,402 Americans, hundreds of people lined up at recruiting stations to fight in World War II. After 43 months 405,399 American servicepeople died, a rate of 9,428 a month and 314 a day. He said 1,900 soldiers died during the Battle of the Bulge alone and "12,500 Marines died in hand to hand combat in Okinawa."
"These brave men remind us what it means to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth," Finn said.
Finn said when World War II was over, veterans put their uniforms in mothballs and retired to civilian life. Over half a million World War II veterans are alive today. Finn said they have given a "legacy of freedom" and imparted the value of courage and sacrifice.
"On this Memorial Day what can we possibly do or say to honor the World War II veterans," Finn said. "Perhaps nothing's better than to call them what they are: America's greatest generation."
Meredith selectman Jeanie Forrester said while Memorial Day is regarded as the unofficial start of summer, it is important to remember the true meaning of the day. She said Americans would not have the liberties they have without sacrifices.
"Today, we are united in our thanks to those who made the cause of America their supreme choice," Forrester said. "How precious we hold liberty, and how fortunate we are as a nation."
The parade made a stop at Lang Street cemetery and then down to Hesky Park for a special tribute to POW/MIA's. Bob Jones said Memorial Day is a day to honor what the flag flying over Hesky Park symbolizes.
He said while much is said about the soldiers who gave their lives for their country, Jones said from his experience in the military he and the majority of his comrades didn't serve their country to give their lives.
"Lives were taken from them in the service to their country," Jones said.
He said the soldiers were looking out for each other and thinking about their loved ones.
Jones recognized Gold Star families: all those who lost a family member in the military.
"As a veteran, I say to all my comrades, 'Thank you,'" Jones said.