HARVARD — Standing beneath the Town Common flag pole during the annual Memorial Day observance in the Town Center, retired Army Col. Duncan Guy “Sandy” Chapman III reminded everyone what Memorial Day is all about.
“On Memorial Day we honor those who have paid the ultimate price for being an American,” he said. “Each deserves to be remembered, to be kept alive, for just a little bit longer. There are hundreds of thousands of them, but how can we honor them?
“Maybe if each of us can pick just one name — of a relative, of a friend, from a history book, a news report, a war memorial or grave marker — and say it aloud on Memorial Day that one name may get us thinking about the freedoms we exercise but don’t always cherish,” he said.
Chapman also called on residents to support soldiers currently in the field, listing Cool Our Troops, Any Soldier, America Supports You, Packages From Home and the USO as worthy means to support that cause.
“As you and your family enjoy the holiday, please remember that the freedom we enjoy is paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of our brave service men and women,” he said. “I would ask for your consideration for any of the charities that help our military.”
Chapman was on active duty during the Cold War from 1969 to 1972 and was in the reserves until 2002. He was one of approximately a dozen local veterans who took part in the observance.
The proceedings included a parade led by a color guard of veterans and accompanied by members of the Fire Department and a marching band from Immaculate Heart of Mary School. Also included were youths from Girl Scouts, Brownies, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Starting at Town Hall, the group made its way to Still River Road and the historic Town Center Cemetery.
A number of the antique grave markers therein were accompanied by new U.S. flags. Girl Scouts and Brownies rushed alongside the procession placing bright red geraniums by each flag.
The procession stopped near the cemetery’s Massachusetts Avenue exit. All eyes were on Korean War veteran Peter Johnston as he placed a wreath at the Founder’s Memorial, which commemorates the founders of Harvard. He then saluted while “Taps” was played.
Similar wreaths were placed at the Civil War and World War II memorials before the procession stopped at the flag pole and World War I memorial.
After Chapman spoke there was 30-second moment of silence, which was only broken by a dove’s call in the distance. “Taps” was played again, followed by the Harvard Town Band’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Sitting among those gathered, a number of voices could be heard softly singing the anthem’s lyrics.
The speaking program opened and closed with a few words from Army Maj. Steven Cronin, who helped organize the event. He thanked all who attended and reiterated what Memorial Day is all about.
“This day is sacred with an almost visible presence of those who’ve gone before us,” he said. “We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in the service of our country and of those others who have dropped their burdens by the wayside of life and are gone to their eternal rest.
“May the ceremonies of today deepen your reverence for our dead and let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag,” he said. “Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.”