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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Monday, May 27, Needham held a variety of services throughout the town in honor of Memorial Day. Beginning with a Mass at St. Joseph’s, wreaths were placed at St. Mary’s, The Cefalo Road Vietnam Memorial, and the Needham Central Cemetery. It was at this event, in front of the Civil War Memorial, that Taps was played by David Zablatsky, and a few political representatives gave speeches.
But, rather than exclusively speaking of the past and how we should honor the fallen, both State Senator Becca Rausch and Select Board member Dan Matthews spoke of the responsibility we have to simultaneously honor them, while living our lives in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice.
State Senator Becca Rausch spoke of the origins of Memorial Day, noting that it originated after the Civil War, a time when the nation was still bitterly divided. She would go on to note that we should remember “how divisiveness itself lays the ground for conflict,” as well as how “each community member we lose is a reminder of our responsibility to keep our troops safe.” While she made no references to our current political situation, it wasn’t hard to see what types of actions she was concerned about.
Select Board member Dan Matthews echoed the idea. “The Union they saved is not perfect,” he said. “We have more wealth, progress and freedom than ever before, but we still live in a word with suffering.” Matthews argued that it is our responsibility to the people who died trying to protect this union, to honor them by trying to work towards a more perfect one.
USMC Desert Storm Veteran Matthew Ching raised the flag at the cemetery, while David Zablatsky played Taps.
The veterans, as well as the Boy Scouts of Troop 13, then marched from the Needham Cemetery to Needham Town Common, though a few of the veterans rode in “Mike 1,” a Jeep with a machine gun on top. There, they spoke to a crowd that had gathered, and trickled in from watching the parade.
While Memorial Day weekend conjures images of backyard barbecues, Wiffle ball, and the de facto beginning of summer, on Monday, Needham was reminded of the true meaning of the day.
And the responsibility that meaning bestows upon us.