~ Submitted by Jon ‘OC’ O’Connor
This Tuesday, May 16th, marks the arrival of a unique, retrospective memorial to “The Oval” at 200 Springs Road, on Bedford’s VA Campus. The Fallen Heroes Memorial will camp out at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital for five days next week. Open to the public, offering a time to remember, respect, and commemorate our Veterans, who lost their lives during the war on terror since September 11, 2001.
Massachusetts welcomes the VAU Fallen Heroes Memorial!
The 28’ long by 6’ tall traveling memorial indelibly identifies over 7,040 names of the heroes who gave their lives protecting our freedoms. Part of the uniqueness of this memorial lies in the presentation of those who gave their lives, listed alphabetically, since 9/11/2001. Each name, rank, and branch of service is permanently etched in red, silver, or blue dog tags. The fifty Gold Stars represent the Gold Star Families who continue to pay an emotional price each and every day.
Bedford will be the third stop in the memorial’s East Coast tour of 32 locations this year. The Western tour will travel to another 15 locations. With the assistance of an all-volunteer force run by Veterans, as is our military, the first rendition of the memorial began in 2018. Vetsau.com/ memorial online details much more of their stories in-depth and offers an opportunity to contribute to this unselfish effort; again, as do our military members and their families.
American Legion Riders Chapter 221 from the Anthony-Hunt-Hamilton, American Legion Family Post 221 in Bedford will escort the memorial to the Bedford VA, and provide an escort on Saturday to the Boston Wounded Veteran Run in Malden.
Our Bedford Community shares a deep appreciation of our national freedoms; first identified in the Revolutionary War with the Bedford Flag as being the very first flag carried into battle by our own Minutemen. We have a shared compassion for caring for our Veterans with decades of volunteering at the Bedford VA. President Lincoln’s quote and sentiment, adopted by the VA as their motto: “To care for him (or her) who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan runs in our collective veins. We can never forget the debts paid by others for our liberties – never.”
Last month, Bedford’s Pole Capping preceded the April 19th reenactment of the Battle on Lexington Green, and the Shot Heard Round the World at Concord’s North Bridge. In just a few weeks, Bedford will conduct its Memorial Day Ceremonies all around town. The Bedford VA will again play a role in the ceremonies by providing their Spirit Tram for our Veterans to participate in the parade more fully.
A full listing of all ceremony and event details can be found at the bottom of this article. Friday evening, an interactive “Candlelight” Ceremony begins at 6 PM. Brief personal reflections from speakers, wreath-laying, patriotic song, and an opportunity to closely inspect and honor the names on the dog tags. A battlefield cross always accompanies the Fallen Heroes Memorial. US Flags will be available to plant a memory of the thousands of stories each Veteran and family holds. individually or collectively.
May 21st is Armed Forces Day, and Bedford is fortunate to have an active-duty installation on our property. Those military families receive some of the best high school education and experiences of their careers right here in Bedford. Before the memorial moves on to its next location, Saturday morning at 11:00 AM, there will be a Blessing for all Armed Forces and their families at the VA.
The Veterans and Athletes United (VUA) webpage (vetsau.com), lists a quote from Sun Tzu: “In every chaos, there is also opportunity.” Their stated mission: To empower wounded, injured, and ill veterans to fully live their lives and honor our fallen military heroes.
Please visit their website, where you will find an opportunity to assist their mission. Their success stories exemplify spectacular results of when we all work together. Their programs certainly address the ever-present Mental Health concerns with our returning Veterans. May is Mental Health Month. The Bedford VA hospital and programs like the VUA know the necessities of finding cures to heal the invisible wounds of mental health.
Because May is Mental Health Month, the VA’s Mobile Vet Center will be on-site at 200 Springs Road while the Memorial is displayed.
After the bugler blows the final note of taps, a deafening silence continues …….. We will never forget. We can never forget the ties between our Bedford community and the Bedford VA, and Hanscom Air Force Base. Join us in the various ceremonies next week. Memorials such as the Fallen Heroes Memorial travel far and wide to remind us all that Freedom is Not Free.
Fallen Heroes Memorial
May 16 to 21, 2022 at “The Oval” on the Bedford VA Campus
200 Springs Road ~ Follow signs for parking
Tuesday, May 17, at 1:30 PM
- Posting of the Colors: USS Constitution Color Guard
- Welcoming Remarks: Todd Dumont, Associate Director, Bedford Healthcare System
- Wreath-laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps
Friday, May 20, at 6 PM
- Welcoming Remarks – Todd Dumont, Associate Director, Bedford Healthcare System
- Jamie Howard, (Designer of Memorial, via TEAMS broadcast)
- Speaker – Joe Desiato, Gold Star Father
- Open Mic Comments by Chief of EMS Steve Cogliano, Don Jarvis, and the public
- Wreath laying ceremony, accompanied by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps
- “Candlelight” walk through the memorial
- Placing of flags at Battle Cross sculpture
Saturday, May 21, at 11 AM
- Blessing of the Armed Forces and the Memorial prior to its take down.
- American Legion Riders escort