As in previous Memorial Day parades in Littleton, the symbolic power of the riderless horse was evident to the hundreds of people who lined Main Street. Darin Wipperman/Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
May 28, 2014LITTLETON— With a feeling of somber respect in the air, the town's Memorial Day parade and ceremony took place in a light shower on Monday. Hundreds were on hand to witness the commemoration of those who died in all of the nation's wars.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was first observed in 1868 to remember those lost in the Civil War. Across the nation's history, more than one million Americans have given their lives in combat.
The color guard from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post set the pace for the morning's parade. They were followed by the White Mountains Regional High School color guard, elected officials, and representatives from local organizations. All made their way to Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Rev. Kurt Wiesner, of All Saints' Episcopal Church, provided the opening prayer at the ceremony. He said Memorial Day honors the fallen and gives determination to those blessed with liberty. The nation must remember those lost in war, Wiesner said, because "men and women died for peace that we may live in peace."
Milt Bratz, Chairman of the Selectmen, then read the town's Memorial Day proclamation. He noted the "long and proud history of service" found of Littleton. Bratz also commended the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their "countless hours" promoting the interests of veterans and the wider community.
Tina Greenlaw praised the example set by those who serve their country. "They did not fight for fame, glory, or fortune," she said. Rather, Greenlaw continued, "They stared death in the face . . . to sustain our way of life."
Local VFW member Ryan Trahan introduced the ceremony's guest speaker, Lloyd Aucoin III, retired Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marines. Trahan called Aucoin, "a great man who has served our country, and served us all."
In his Marine uniform, Aucoin, who lives in Virginia, began his remarks by noting how New Hampshire's motto, "Live Free or Die," expresses the philosophy of a soldier. Aucoin also praised the people he has met in New Hampshire. "We've been blessed by the friendly faces and cordial atmosphere," he said.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Aucoin served on a detail to escort bodies of the fallen home. He mentioned one fallen Marine, Joseph McCarthy, who was one of seven Marines killed in a roadside bomb attack on September 6, 2004. Although he did not know McCarthy, Aucoin said he would learn much about him from McCarthy's family. "Let us recall their stories of service and selflessness," Aucoin said Monday.
Regarding all the fallen, Aucoin concluded, "In essence, they chose to live free or die."
Laying wreaths by each plaque on Veterans Memorial Bridge was another part of the ceremony. Each name was that of a fallen local serviceman, from the Civil War to the War on Terrorism. Representatives from other towns, including Jerry Blanchard, a Bethlehem selectman, and John Monaghan, Franconia's Chief of Police, assisted with the wreath laying.
Poems read during the service expressed the sentiment found on the bridge. Bonnie Trahan read, "Let Them In." The third verse reads,
"May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die"
"We Shall Keep the Faith," which Greenlaw read, promises how future generations will remember the nation's sacrifice.
"We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies"