On Friday, residents of Leominster gathered at the annual White Cross Ceremony to honor their veterans that fell in battle, were buried or lost overseas, and never returned home. Considering Leominster’s recent loss of Marine Capt. Ross Reynolds, the ceremony felt like a singularly local observance of our solemn national holiday.
On March 19, 2022, Reynolds, a native of Leominster, was one of four Marines killed in a helicopter crash during a NATO training exercise in Norway. Reynolds’ life was marked by an unwavering commitment to service and a love for his community and country. As Mayor Dean Mazzarella said after learning of the tragedy, Reynolds “always carried the flag.” He volunteered for Marine officer training, swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution in active military service, and was selected for one of the most dangerous occupational specialties in the military: to serve as an Osprey aircraft pilot.
These choices put Reynolds on the frontier of the free world — on an overseas mission with NATO partners to deter current and future Russian aggression — at a time when no more important mission existed. Reynolds embodied the spirit of “semper fidelis” and remained “always faithful” to his fellow Marines and to the high ideals enshrined in our Constitution.
In a nation increasingly subjected to the destructive forces of division, Memorial Day is a necessary reminder of what binds us together as Americans. The United States military is special — truly special — because each member swears an oath to support and defend our Constitution. That is unique in the world. Our servicemembers’ oath is not to a political party or a monarch, not to a president or a general officer. Their oath is to the enduring promise of a more perfect union and the high ideals of freedom, liberty, and self-government enshrined in our Constitution.
So this year especially, I implore all of us to garner inspiration from the selflessness of men like Capt. Ross Reynolds. To best honor their ultimate sacrifice, we have a duty to recommit ourselves to take action to find ways to serve and help others, to protect our democracy, and to strive toward a more perfect union here at home. That is our debt to the fallen.
State Sen. John J. Cronin, D-Lunenburg, is a West Point graduate, combat infantryman from the war in Afghanistan, and the current state senator for the Worcester & Middlesex District.