Memorial Day observances conducted in Jamestown
Holiday marked with program, ceremonies at cemeteries.
Color guards stood at attention and taps was played after the American flag was raised and lowered at Jamestown cemeteries Monday, paying tribute to those who died in service to their country.
The solemn ceremonies were part of Memorial Day observances in Jamestown that included music, prayers and recognition of military organizations.
“May we take time to reflect on the great blessings we share as a nation and as a people," prayed the Rev. Bob Boyer, pastor of United Presbyterian Church. "Our blessings have come at a high cost to others. May we remember these sacrifices always with deep gratitude.”
Speaker Warren Tobin told the audience during the Memorial Day program at the Knights of Columbus that this holiday is difficult for some families.
“The memories and emotions this day brings are always the same,” he said. “For countless families across the nation, Memorial Day is a stark and often painful reminder of those who were never afforded the opportunity to be recognized and honored as veterans for their services to their country. Their sacrifice is a true expression of selfless service, one that no one would pick for themselves.”
And the loss isn’t marked only on this day, he noted.
“Too many mothers, fathers, siblings and children feel the immense weight of seeing an empty chair year round,” he said. “For them, Memorial Day brings to the forefront what is always operating in the background. ... Truly, your grace and courage in such unimaginable loss are inspiring to us all.”
Tobin said this is the 20th year the U.S. has been at war, “longer than any other American conflict that came before. Almost 2.7 million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and over half of them have deployed more than once. Those who have returned are now our community members, neighbors and friends.”
He said if people took the time to learn about a veteran, they would be “floored” by the veteran’s stories of service and sacrifice.
“Then there are the unbelievably brave accounts of heroes who can no longer speak for themselves,” he said. He said people must tell their stories and honor their service by ensuring their families and survivors are cared for.
“The harsh reality of war and military service in general is that not everyone will make it home,” Tobin said. “Let us honor today the memory of the heroes among us who are no longer with us ... and let us strive to live up to the example set by the selfless patriots each and every day.”
A naval ceremony that included lowering a wreath into the James River at the Nickeus Park bridge followed the program at the Knights of Columbus along with a rifle salute by the VFW and American Legion Firing Squad.
Local veterans organizations and auxiliaries were recognized at the program along with Gold Star and Blue Star families. Representatives of the 20th Infantry, VFW, American Legion, AMVETS and Vietnam veterans organizations retired wreaths and flags following the program and the Jamestown Drum and Bugle Corps performed several patriotic musical selections.