Local residents gathered around the town common Monday (May 28) to pay homage to those killed in battle.
The town’s Memorial Day observances took place at noon – with speeches, music and ceremonies meant to honor the sacrifices made by those in the armed services.
Walpole Veterans Agent Jon Cogan said the flag at the center of town was held at half staff throughout the morning as a way to remember those sacrifices. The flag is raised at noon, he said, to show the country’s resolve in ensuring those actions were not made in vain.
State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, said it was a special thing that men and women knowingly volunteer to protect their country.
“We owe them a huge debt – not just today, but every day,” he said. “They gave their lives so we could be here.”
Dooley said it was the country’s obligation to honor that sacrifice by remembering those who gave it. He told the story of a Marine – killed at Guadalcanal in World War II – whose remains were recently identified and returned to the United States as a way of illustrating how the country works to fulfill that obligation.
John Power, a Walpole resident and veteran, was the featured speaker. He said, while there are several definitions of “veteran,” his was rather simple: a veteran was anyone who had, at some point, written a blank check to the country – for an amount up to and including their own life.
“We’re here today to honor those who have had their check cashed,” he said.
Power spoke of the history of the holiday, noting it has risen from a grassroots effort to honor those who died in the Civil War. It had evolved from that original purpose – and its original name, Decoration Day – to a federally recognized holiday celebrating all American soldiers who had perished in service to their country.
The town common, said Power, was an appropriate place to hold the ceremony, as it encompassed the breadth of the town’s history. In it, he said, were monuments commemorating soldiers from the first Colonial companies of the French and Indian War all the way up to the War on Terror.
Power asked that those present keep the true meaning of the holiday alive and remember and honor the sacrifices made to keep the nation free.
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