Friday, June 2, 2000
On Monday, I attended what must be at least my thirtieth Carlisle Memorial Day Observation. I know I have missed a few. I even had a baby on May 30. During most of my 35-year tenure in Carlisle, I have been there in the crowd, paying tribute to Carlisle's fallen, as well as tribute to those who answered the call.
I feel that Carlisle captures the true meaning of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it used to be called. Hometown people honoring hometown people. Our flag-raising, our annual speaker, our parade, and even the luncheon afterward, all Carlisle people. We're small; our parade doesn't have floats from outside, troops of soldiers, or state and national politicians. Just us. We may not be big or flashy, but we are sincere.
I sat in the Corey Auditorium, which this year honored a U.S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam War, and listened to the band and the speaker, as I have year after year. These are our heroes that they were talking about. Heroes during all of our history. I, like most other New Englanders, have had a relative in every American war all the way back to King Philip's War. We all have ancestors going back that far, either here or in some other country. I am just fortunate enough to know the names of my ancestors. This is a time to pay honor to them.
The Memorial Day speeches in Carlisle are always great, and the band is wonderful. The audience is full of people of all ages, from the too young to the very old. And speaking of those that are too young to be there, I take hope when I remember that in about eight years, these noisy little children will be up on the stage in the band. It will be the turn of their parents to strain to hear them play and wish for more consideration from other parents. I can say this because I am a former band mother myself who once had children who were too young.
Very few people actually watch the parade. That's because most of us are in it. We march through the cemeteries; Carlisle clergy say prayers for Carlisle's dead. The denomination of prayer doesn't matter, this is what we are and have, right here in Carlisle.
In my hometown in New Hampshire, they are honoring some of my ancestors. The parade also marches right through the middle of the cemetery. In my days there, World War II was much closer to us and we remembered and cried for those who fell.
All in all, I think Carlisle has the right idea. For one morning, we are united in honoring our dead. We march together. Whether or not we agreed with the war or conflict, these are our people and our dead. The town stops, the road is closed, there is a lesson for all.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito