Memorial Day, 2020 ~ A Different Form, but Sentiments will be the Same

Paul Purchia, speaking at Veterans Memorial Park on Memorial Day, 2015

We certainly find ourselves living in extraordinary times. Freedoms which we enjoy and sometimes take for granted such as freedom to assemble, freedom of movement, freedom to worship, all have been temporarily put on hold as a result of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the traditions Bedford has proudly maintained over the decades has been our observance of Memorial Day; a day to honor those brave men and women who fought and died to keep America free. Sadly we have had to temporarily limit some of these freedoms for the greater good of our community as we slowly return to normalcy.

By now you may know that Bedford’s Memorial Day events scheduled for Monday, May 25 have been canceled. These ceremonies and the annual town parade which take place every Memorial Day are possible because of the many dedicated individuals and civic organizations, including the Bedford Historical Society, who have generously given their time and talents to honor our veterans.

The Historical Society’s presence on Memorial Day could be found at the many events that occur throughout the town. It was experienced by listening to a morning talk in Shawsheen Cemetery and learning about the sacrifices made by Bedford troops during the Civil War. Many veterans of that conflict are buried in Shawsheen Cemetery near the Civil War monument. Or later at the Old Burying Ground, hearing about Revolutionary War veterans including former slaves, who fought, died and were laid to rest in the Old Burying Ground. Or when the parade stopped at the WWI memorial on the Town Common to hear a Society member talk about veterans from Bedford who fought and died during the Great War.

Memorial Day is an observance that has taken place in our country for over 150 years. It was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5, 1868. Memorial Day is a federal holiday held on the last Monday of May to remember, honor, and mourn the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

This Memorial Day is unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetimes. The Covid-19 pandemic does not allow us to safely gather and participate in Bedford Memorial Day events as in years past. How ironic that we cannot come together as a community to honor those Veterans who gave their last measure of sacrifice to protect our freedom to assemble, to worship, to speak.

Please keep our Veterans and active military personnel and their families in your thoughts and prayers this Memorial Day, along with everyone who is keeping us safe in these challenging times. Bedford will come through this pandemic as the strong and caring community it has been since our colonial beginnings. On Monday, May 25 let each of us find time to remember and thank all those heroes who went before us to keep us free.

Have a safe Memorial Day.

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