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Memorial Day 2010 Obervance in Londonderry: American Legion Post 27 will hold their annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies in Londonderry on Monday, May 31st, starting at 10 a.m. More info...

Personal Sacrifice, Honoring the Fallen
 

Memorial Day Obervance, Londonderry , N.H.By Joe Paradis Londonderry Hometown Online News. Photos by Steve Young.

Editor's note: we thank Joe Paradis and Steve Young, of the Londonderry Hometown Online News, for sharing this great New England Memorial Day Observance article. We always encourage citizen and professional journalists (including student writers) to contribute articles on New England travel. Write us, and we'll consider your article for publication). We'd also like to express a big "thumbs-up" to the Town of Londonderry, a community that ecompasses the very best of the true New England spirit -- town pride, citizen involvement, beautiful rural scenery and and an overall wonderful classic, traditional New England presence.

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Londonderry Hometown Online News Editor's Note: What better way to celebrate Memorial Day in
Memorial Day Obervance photo in Londonderry, N.H.
New England, a two hour event at the center of town cradled by a town forest, apple orchards and historic architecture.  Over 2000 come out to support those warriors that have lost a life in battle to protect our country.

A parade passing by the Town Common silently snakes through the Glenwood Cemetery in great reverence to our fallen warriors. Following the wreath laying ceremony the 600 member procession makes it’s way back to the Historic Town Common where in front of the Soldiers Monument a prayer and keynote address are given.

Ending with the haunting call of 3 echoing buglers playing taps this is Memorial Day! For Londonderry, New Hampshire, New England and the United States.


Steve Young, Editor Londonderry Hometown Online News

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As we celebrate Memorial Day this coming weekend, I’m reminded of a brief incident several years ago, when I served as Chairman of the Londonderry Town Council.  I was honored to have been asked by the American Legion, to say a few words during the town’s Memorial Day celebration on the Town Common.  Two to three minutes they asked – I think I did four; okay, maybe five.  But that’s a politician for you…

Before speech time, I compared notes with our main speaker, Captain Matt Bazarian of the U.S. Marine Corps.  We were vying for who would have the shortest speech of the day – always a plus for an audience.

“I’ve got a three-minute speech.  What about you, Matt?” I asked.

“Two and a half, maybe three minutes,” he said.  He showed me the text.

“That’s two pages, Matt!  Mine’s only one.”

“Yeah, but mine’s in large font,” he responded.

“Yeah, but mine’s double spaced,” I said.


Then the speeches began.  And we both had something to say…I think.  At least no one fell asleep – another benefit to brevity.  Here’s my story:

“It is traditional on Memorial Day for us to honor those who have given their lives for this country, in a trail of wars fought for freedom over the last 230 years.  Freedom not only for our own country, but for other countries as well.

For many Americans, the men and women we honor on this day are nameless, and faceless, and therefore the holiday itself, unfortunately, has less personal meaning than it should for them.  But for some, that knock on the door from a military courier, with news that a son or daughter has been killed in action, brings the real meaning of pain and unselfish sacrifice into their lives.  These are the personal stories of Memorial Day.  I have such a story.

Robert Joseph Paradis was born on April 13, 1921, the oldest of six children born to French-Canadian immigrants who migrated to the United States – legally – in 1912.  Somewhat of a rambunctious young man, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Navy, when WWII broke out.  He was all of 18 years old.  Three of his siblings eventually joined him in service.

Robert served aboard a PT boat in the South Pacific, in the thick of the Allies’ fight against Japan’s Imperial Navy.  During one particular skirmish, he was crushed between two PT boats and died, one of the many US servicemen who gave their lives in that war.
Robert Joseph Paradis was the uncle I never knew.  He was my father’s oldest brother and a hero to our family.  When I was born, my father named me after Uncle Robert, choosing to reverse the first and middle names.   I was named Joseph Robert Paradis.

When my own son was born, I too chose to name him after Uncle Robert, reversing my first and middle names, per my father’s tradition.  My son is therefore named Robert Joseph Paradis, exactly as my uncle was.  I am extremely proud that he is now serving as a Tank Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps.  Although his deployment status is still up in the air, I have little doubt that my son will carry on the legacy of his great uncle, who gave his life for this country, as have all whom we honor this Memorial Day.

Personal stories.  Personal sacrifice.  There is no freedom without sacrifice.  And for that, we salute, this weekend, all of the servicemen and women – and their families – who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The irony to this story is that my wife’s uncle also served on that same PT boat with my Uncle Robert back in 1944.  Talk about coincidences…  He and I once had a talk about that coincidence, but to this day, he’s never spoken about what happened to my uncle.  Those who’ve seen combat rarely do.  That’s how they honor the fallen…silently, with respect and dignity.  And that’s how we should honor them too – even more often than just on Memorial Day.  Not every holiday should be just a barbeque…

Joe Paradis is a popular weekly columnist for Londonderry Hometown Online News His first book "It's Great to Be Alive!" is available at his website Joe's Two CentsLondonderry Hometown Online News publishes daily news and events about this classic central New England town.


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Capt. Bazarian's Memorial Day Speech

Here is the actual Memorial Day 2007 speech that was given by Captain Bazarian in this story -- it is very popular this time of year, and found by many that understand, according to Steve Young, of the Londonderry Hometown Online News:


Thank you for inviting me to celebrate Memorial Day with you. It is a great honor to be standing among America’s veterans from past wars. Throughout my life you have been my heroes and role models. I also want to thank wife, son, and all the families who have sent their loved ones off to war with full support, knowing that Memorial Day could take on a whole new meaning.

Your invitation to speak here has really forced me to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day in a way I never have before. But as our country is in the midst of another difficult war, I just want to make one point about the importance of Memorial Day: honoring our war dead is about the future not the past.

I see a lot of tributes these days meant to elicit sorrow for those who have lost their lives in this war. These tributes are, in fact, dishonorable to the dead. While many want us to reflect on the great human cost of war, we must remember that those who have died in combat are heroes not victims. This is a day of celebration not sorrow.

Like these misguided tributes, the nightly news reports the death toll in Iraq like the score of a lost baseball game. What they miss is the heroism embodied in each fallen warrior. Those who have experienced combat know that few deaths are glorious. In fact, when we lost Mike Glover and John McKenna to a sniper last summer, glory was the furthest thing from my mind. As time has passed, though, I can’t help but think about those two without the word hero coming to mind. It is not the actions of that day rather it’s that their sacrifice is a tribute to the valor that each American warrior displays when he puts himself in harm’s way.

When I talk about heroism, I don’t mean the type that makes for great stories and medals. What I think about are the Marines who continued to patrol the streets of Fallujah without complaint when the costs were very high and the benefits were intangible at best. If things turned out in the worst possible way, each Marine could take comfort in the fact that this country would embrace his sacrifice with the utmost reverence.

This is an important lesson for the future of our nation. Paying tribute to America’s war dead is a way for this country to lay down the gauntlet for future generations. All that is good and right about this nation has been paid for dearly by American warriors from the Lexington Green to the Streets of Baghdad. The honor given to fallen heroes in wars past makes the notion of dying in combat bearable. Our forefathers have established a tradition of courage and victory in war. This is a legacy we took very seriously in Iraq.

Unfortunately, when I returned home this past fall I found a nation prepared to surrender the battlefield to a ruthless enemy. It seems that the possibility of losing more Americans in combat is too much to bear. Herein lies the overriding importance of Memorial Day:

If we as a nation are not determined to sacrifice our best men and women in the name of freedom, we will be forced to submit to the will of those who are eager to die for their cause.

There is no better way to honor our fallen than to commit to victory in war regardless of the sacrifice.

As spoken at the Londonderry Memorial Day Ceremony by Captain Matt Bazarian, in front of the 1884 Soldiers Monument on the Town Common and reported by Londonderry Hometown Online News www.LondonderryNH.net



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