Guest Op-Ed: On Memorial Day Observances

The following remarks were made by Mayor Brian M. Arrigo during Revere’s Memorial Day Observance, May 25, 2020.

This weekend we observe a holiday that began out of a tradition over 150 years ago following the Civil War. In cities and towns across the nation, people turned out during the springtime to pray and decorate the graves of the more 618-thousand soldiers who perished during that tragic “War Between the States” that tore apart the fabric of our nation.

Our nation was suffering, frightened, and facing doubt of its very survival.

Over time, prayer, and remembering those who gave their lives helped the nation heal.

Today, in 2020, our nation finds itself in a different kind of War, battling a treacherous disease that in only a matter of months has killed more than 333-thousand people worldwide, nearly 100,000 here in the United States.

It is the crisis of our times, and it frightens us.

But as we reflect on the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day, we can find consolation and discover strength. We are reminded that our nation has faced crisis throughout its history, and survived.

Commemorating the dead stirs a somber reflection on the value of life. It gives us pause to accept the uncertainty of our times, and to appreciate that valor and sacrifice has unique rewards.

We are privileged to live with those rewards.  We know those privileges in words like “liberty” and “freedom.” And we must never forget the precious cost of those privileges.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States, said

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”

We do not forget.  Two Hundred and Seven names are listed in this week’s Revere Journal, the roster of our fallen fellow Revere-ites who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, in defense of each one of us, in World Wars I and II, in Korea, in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars, and during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Every one of them died in defense of the privileges we enjoy every day.

The crisis that faces our nation today prevents us from gathering in person. The crisis has altered the way we observe our traditions, but not the meaning of them. We are united in our tribute to those who protected this nation during other crisis.

Their memory, their virtue, gives us strength.

As we commemorate the dead of this nation’s wars, may we also emulate their courage.

They have set the example we must follow today; they have taught us how to overcome every crisis.

May they rest in peace.  And let us cherish and live our lives in a way that honors their sacrifice.

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