ARUNDEL – Memorial Day means a variety of distinct and often contrasting events to people across the state and across the country. For some of the residents of Arundel, Maine, the Sunday before Memorial Day begins not with a parade, not with a barbecue, or even with the promise of a round of golf.
For these people, the day begins with a ceremony to remember those from this small town who served their country. Officer, enlisted, male or female – it matters little. What matters most is the pride these residents have for those who have left their home and entered military service. Some of these young men and women never had a chance to return to their homes and families.
The ceremony is held in front of the town offices and the local fire station. This year, I was fortunate enough to be part of the observance. Standing in front of nearly 60 citizens, I read a short section of my historical novel and tried to explain about the sense of service and pride I found in the veterans I interviewed as I wrote the novel.
As soon as I was finished, representatives from the local American Legion post stood at the podium and read the names of Arundel residents who served in the armed services. They started with the Revolutionary War and in less than 10 minutes finished with the names of those who most recently served during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In some cases, tears were shed, and in others, a simple head nod was the acknowledgment of a loved one. The service was solemn, poignant, and for me, an important reminder of the purpose of the day. The most appropriate words for the day were simply “thank you.”
To the members of the Arundel Historical Society, thank you for asking me to speak and to the men and women we honored on a chilly Sunday morning, thank you. You are not forgotten.