Memorial Day in Bedford, 2016

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By Julie McCay Turner

Memorial Day holds multiple meanings: Family gatherings at the start of summer, or recalling the hundreds, thousands, millions of military and civilian lives lost during times of war.

Last Monday’s holiday dawned cold, with rain that cancelled the parade and moved the outdoor ceremonies into the Bedford High School auditorium. Once inside, however, a patriotic community spirit took over.

A foreshortened parade marched from the BHS cafeteria to the auditorium. Participants ranged from Veterans and elected officials, to Cub Scouts struggling with enormous flags.

The fifes and drums of the Bedford Minutemen kept the beat, and it was a handsome parade no matter its location.

Once in the auditorium, the speeches drove home the importance of service to America.

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Colonel David Dunklee, Commander at Hanscom Air Force Base, spoke of the “[other] one percent of Americans that are sworn to protect our freedoms and our way of life” including salutes to several killed in action: A young soldier whom he had known as a student; four graduates of Bedford High School; and Hanscom’s Senior Airman Kcey Ruiz and Senior Airman Nathan Sartain,  killed in action last October.

State Representative Ken Gordon spoke of service by Veterans, first responders and volunteers in Bedford and then announced his appointment to the Massachusetts State Council of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission where he will be charged with the advancement of issues facing education of the children of military families.

Selectman Mike Rosenberg highlighted the lives of men who returned to Bedford after their wartime service, and how for many years these Veterans were stalwarts within the community: They bought houses here, brought up families, volunteered in the ball fields and Scout troops and town hall. They were the backbone that every city and town needs to be defined as a community in the fullest sense.

John Glenn Middle School student Mia Federico, winner of the Memorial Day Essay contest, noted that living in Bedford, she has come to recognize and understand the importance of Memorial Day.

The United States of America was created because people wanted a say in what happened in their lives, and from April 19th, 1775 to this day, the bravest people in the country risk their lives to protect what we fought for so many years ago – the right to freedom. Memorial Day honors all of those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom, and ensuring that the United States continues its uphill climb since the eighteenth century. Because I live in Bedford and am surrounded by the town’s rich history, I understand Memorial Day’s importance, and where the country would be without the day to remember. Although the country cannot take back what it has lost over the years, the least the citizens of the United States can do is take a moment to remember and honor the bravery of our militia, not just on Memorial Day, though – take a moment every day to honor those whose bravery ensures America’s freedom. 

~ Mia Federico

And Joseph Piantedosi read the list of Bedford Veterans who have passed away in the past year.

Stars and Stripes! Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

Stars and Stripes! Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

Then, when the ceremonies were finished, sunshine and warm temperatures returned – just in time for family gatherings and cookouts to mark the start of summer.

Editor’s Note: Although the ceremony at Bedford’s Old Burying Ground was cancelled on account of inclement weather, Terry Parker shared the remarks he would have delivered.