‘We humbly pray for peace. Not only among nations, but among and within ourselves’

Under clear skies, Camden observes Memorial Day with services and parade

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 4:00am

CAMDEN — A gathering of citizens and veterans from conflicts and wars over the last century took place Monday morning, May 27, as Memorial Day ceremonies got underway in the Midcoast. The day, while sunny and warm and full of Spring promise, carries an air of solemnity and respect, as communities honor those who have served in the military, Merchant Marines and Coast Guard to defend and protect the country.

“Heavenly Father, on this Memorial Day celebration, we stand in grateful acknowledgment of our past history,” said Rev. Dave Franclemont, a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, who is now chaplain for the Maine American Legion, District 6, Knox County. He is with Post 30, in Camden.

“We thank you for those who have lived and worked to bring us to this present hour,” he continued, as a small crowd assembled on the Camden Public Landing. Some stood at attention on boats in the harbor, while others quietly paused along the docks.

Members of the War Memorial Post 30 Color Guard bore the flags and honored all those who served with a rifle salute. Maine State Representative Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, also spoke at the wreath ceremony, when veterans carefully tossed a wreath down into the harbor water, honoring troops and units who sailed the seas for the sake of the country.

“In the late 1800s, this holiday was known as Decoration Day, because it was observed by decorating the graves with flowers and flags,” she said. “That tradition of leaving a symbol of our remembrance is still a strong one, but our presence here today is about much more. It is my hope that we pause together, in the midst of a weekend that heralds the beginning of summer, a time for picnics and barbecues and boating, that we stop for a few moments and think about the supreme sacrifice so many made for us in the service of our country. 

The Camden Hills Regional High School Marching Band filled the Landing with music, with two members performing Taps at the water’s edge. 

“We acknowledge our debt to those of our nation who have given their lives for their country, for freedom, justice, and liberty,” Rev. Franclemont continued. “May we never forget the value of their sacrifice, nor the nobility of courage nor the tenacity of endurance, which have purchased for us peace, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, O God, help us to prize and keep this heritage that we may be true as they were true, loyal as they were loyal. We humbly pray for peace. Not only among nations, but among and within ourselves.”

Following the brief ceremony, the Color Guard, veterans, band and citizens moved up to Main Street, as annual Memorial Day Parade wound through Camden’s center, on the way to Mountain View Cemetery for a graveside service. Intermittent stops were made at the Conway Monument, Village Green War Memorial “Wall of Names,” Harbor Park Civil War Statue.

The day for the veterans and Marching Band was busy, not just with the Camden observances, but the early morning ceremonies in West Rockport and Rockville, Rockport Village Memorial Day Parade and ceremony at Amsb dry Hill Cemetery, at 11 a.m., followed by a lunch at the Rockport Masonic Hall, and then on to Lincolnville Center for a War Memorial Honor Roll ceremony.

“Dear Lord, bless us all present here to memorialize those who died to preserve our liberty and freedom in our nation and in the world,” said Rev. Franclemont. “And may you remember all those whose sacrifice gave this nation its greatness, progress, and richness. May our memory of them be an honorable one, full of thanksgiving to the Lord who accepted them into his kingdom. You are for all, and in you we believe, and to you we pray, remember all who died in the service of their country, whether in the air, on land, or at sea. O Lord, be gracious and merciful onto them and let your light shine upon them, for you are our God and unto you we ascribe glory now and forever.”

Rep. Vicki Doudera’s remarks follow:

I am honored to be here with you on this Memorial Day and I want to thank American Legion Post 30 for asking me to share a few words.

My friends –  we are gathered here today to pay tribute to Americans from every corner of our country who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Today, in cities and towns large and small, Americans are gathering, just as we are, at cemeteries and town halls, at churches and in parks, to observe Memorial Day.  

“In the late 1800s, this holiday was known as Decoration Day, because it was observed by decorating the graves with flowers and flags,” she said. “That tradition of leaving a symbol of our remembrance is still a strong one, but our presence here today is about much more. It is my hope that we pause together, in the midst of a weekend that heralds the beginning of summer, a time for picnics and barbecues and boating, that we stop for a few moments and think about the supreme sacrifice so many made for us in the service of our country. 

Sadly enough, there has never been a generation of Americans free from the pain of death on the battlefield, whether it was on foreign shores, or here on native soil.  Even following revolutionary times, when  we  First emerged as a strong new country, Americans were called again and again to defend her sovereignty.  we also fought against each other, in countless battles that displaced our indigenous peoples, as well as the Bloody Civil War in which American fought against American.  

IN the past century,  millions of our country’s men and women  rallied to the threat against freedom and democracy, and traveled across a vast ocean to fight a war they hoped would end all wars. 

It was 1917, and A year and a half of fighting Took PLACE  in the struggle that came to be known as World War I.   

Row after row of new graves appeared in cemeteries on both sides of the ocean and thousands upon thousands of flowers and flags brought by families – friends – and fellow citizens –- dotted graves in tiny rural churchyards and in large, rolling cemeteries. Thousands of Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice at places like the Marne, and the Argonne, and it is in memory of their loyalty and selfless devotion we pay tribute today. 

Some 20 years later, at dawn on Sept. 2, 1939, World War II began when five of Hitler’s armies crossed into Poland, launching Europe into darkness, death and destruction.  

THERE WAS A FIVE-YEAR, EIGHT-MONTH AND SEVEN-DAY LONG, DARK  WINTER of War..  THE LIGHTS CAME ON AGAIN ON MAY 8, 1945, AND SMILES RETURNED TO THE DREARY FACES OF PEOPLE WHO HAD NO MORE TEARS LEFT.  MAY 8TH WAS NOT ONLY THE END OF A TERRIBLE, CRUEL ERA, IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF A SEASON OF NEW FOUND HOPE, FOR REBUILDING AND FOR NEW DREAMS.

Today we honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands who gave their lives in World War II,  A war Which raged in Europe, Africa and the Pacific theater.  TOday we remember those who Died for our Freedom in places like  Iwo Jima and Anzio.  We honor the heroic dead of the largest invasion force ever amassed – the Normandy Invasion of D-Day – A massive Offense  that took place 75 years ago, on June 6, 1944.  The American Cemetary in Normandy is the resting place for  9,387 Americans, Most of whom gave their lives during the landing operations and in the establishment of the beach Head.  The names of 1557 soldiers are inscribed on tablets in the cemetary’s Garden of the Missing.  They came from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A father and his son are buried there, side by side, and in 33 places, two brothers rest side by side.

Today we remember Those sacrifices. oday we Reflect on all  the Men and Women who fought and died  in World War II, a time we remember for its heroic struggle and stellar victory Over the Fascist Forces that Threatened our world.

Since that time we Have continued to add Crosses and flags to our cemeteries. In  Korea – Vietnam – and Desert Storm, our soldiers once more   answered the call of a country in need.  Once  again – citizens turned into soldiers and rendered just and glorious service to our  flag – the same flag we use to decorate their graves today.

And Ladies and Gentlemen, We cannot forget The American Soldiers who Have given their LIVES SINCE Sept 11, 2001 IN the War against Terror.   Nearly  7000 Americans have Perished in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, PAkistan – and are fighting ASO  in YEMEN , Somalia, Libya, and Niger.  We are still at war,  and  

This year there are new graves upon which flags and flowers will be placed.  To the families and loved ones of those who have joined America’s other heroes, we offer our Deepest sympathy and whatever encouragement we can.  This Memorial Day will be with them for years to come.

How Do We say Thank you for such a remarkable Gift?  A gift that comes at such a high cost?  What do we say to the Families of our  SOLDIERS, SAILORS AND MARINES who have given their Loved ones  iN DEFENSE OF FREEDOM, JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY?

There are no words. There is only our commitment to honor them, and to make sure that when we do wage war – When we do Ask Americans to Make the Ultimate Sacrifice ---   it is to protect and defend US, and those less fortunate. We fight against tyranny and oppression,  Injustice and Intolerance. 

We Must Make Sure that none OF THEM has died in vain.  

The best memorial we can offer our fallen comrades TODAY is our collective resolve to be true to America’s ideals of justice and liberty.  To Speak up for the Stranger who is unfairly treated ---   extend kindness to the less fortunate, And to Be welcoming to those fleeing oppression around the world.  We must remain true to the Ideals of PEACE --  the ideals of America --- While at the same time remaining ever-vigilant – strong – and united --  in preserving freedom in the world.

Let us thank God for America – let us thank God for those patriots who went off to war – and let us NEVER  forget those who did not return.

Thank  you.

 


Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657