Remembering Those We’ve Lost and Their Supreme Sacrifice
Memorial Day Ceremonies in Rye begin with an exuberant parade starting at the train station and continuing down Purchase Street. Families find a shady spot from which to wave and cheer as veterans, members of treasured organizations, local bands, and City volunteers and officials, with heads and banners held high, proceed toward the Village Green.
Every human emotion is on display at this special occasion. Joy. Delight. Sorrow. Pride, with no shred of Prejudice.
Rye American Legion Post 128 Commander Fred de Barros welcomed a large crowd outside City Hall. After Robin Phelps Latimer sang the National Anthem and Rev. Kate Malin delivered the Invocation, Mayor Josh Cohn greeted everyone and set the perfect tone in his remarks.
“Once again, we have enjoyed our too-short spring, full of new life. Once more, we are all fortunate to be able to stand together on the first unofficial weekend of summer. And again, it is our duty and our privilege to think of those who have given everything they had for us.
“For so many generations, this country has had citizens willing to step forward and put their lives in service. Without them, this place, this day, the very air we breathe would be different. We are blessed that this tradition of brave service continues.
“Those that serve accept so much, and bear so much for us, that it is more than we can reckon. They commit without knowing where they will go, who will lead them, and if they will come home. And many, too many, make the ultimate sacrifice. I understand that some in this audience have personally known the magnitude of this loss.”
To try to “conjure this enormity” for the audience, the Mayor shared the names and a few personal details of four service members from across the nation who lost their lives this year. They included an Army sergeant, the mother of five, who was killed in a truck accident in Kuwait; a Naval officer who died in a suicide bombing in Syria; an Army Chief Warrant officer who died in the same bombing; and a 22-year-old Army Specialist who lost his life in Afghanistan.
“The message that I take away is that the human cost of <all> these losses is incalculable, for those lost and for those who survive them.
“Ultimately, all we have to weigh against the pain of these lives lost is the worth of their cause, our nation. I, for one, and I hope you too, believe that, however imperfect our nation is, and without endorsing each and every battle we fight, our nation remains a great and noble experiment in self-rule, and therefore worthy.
“As we remember and honor the million-plus service members who have been lost over our near two-and-a-half centuries of nationhood, let us each remember and rededicate ourselves to the noble national purpose which rang true to those who walked this village green in 1776 and which still rings true today.”
In his keynote address, retired United States Marine Corps Major and former City Councilman Terry McCartney recalled General George Patton’s words, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that they lived.” McCartney described America as being at a crossroads, with an opportunity for all to be more unified, for people to be more selfless. “It is up to us to move forward, to be better, a better City and County, better friends and parents. Just a better plain old human being.”
The recipient of the Americanism Award was Sally Rogol, who has guided and nurtured all ages at Rye Recreation for over 30 years. Though a self-effacing leader, she wears her special affection for our veterans on her sleeve.
A warm salute to Rye American Legion Post 128 for continuing this tradition.
- Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott