Friday, May 25, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY 2012 - It isn't about the BBQs and a trip to Cape Cod

It is one of the ways that things have changed over the last 30 years or so that has bothered me.  Memorial Day Weekend used to be a solemn occasion where all understood it was to honor those who were lost in battle defending our country.

Now, it gets treated as just another three day weekend that people take off to go to the Cape.  I am glad to see the sea of flags that has graced the Boston Common as this is what this weekend is all about.  More people need to take part in ceremonies that most towns hold this Monday as it is vital we pay homage to those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

About 200 volunteers planted 33,000 flags on the Boston Common today to represent Massachusetts soldiers killed since the Civil War.  We remember their sacrifice this weekend and always.

Families of soldiers lost in war plant flags on Boston Common and recall their bravery
By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff

Marine Private Daniel McGuire was born in Middleborough and grew up on the Cape. He played a little bit of lacrosse and loved theater. He was the oldest of four boys and was 19 when he was standing at his post in the middle of the night in Fallujah, Iraq. It was Aug. 14. 2008, a year and a day after he enlisted. His post was attacked, and he was fatally shot.

“The key is, for us as parents, I don’t need you to pay constant tribute to my son, I can do that, but just don’t forget him,’’ said Mark McGuire, who planted a US flag today for his son in a flowing display of 33,000 flags covering a grassy hill at the Boston Common near the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. About 200 volunteers on Wednesday planted the flags, one for each Massachusetts servicemember killed in action since the Civil War.

A final 159 flags were added today for the Massachusetts servicemembers killed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

An hour-long event at the Common, the “Massachusetts Military Heroes” ceremony, was attended by a crowd of about 300 people, including Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and about 20 families of servicemembers killed in action.

Family members read off the names of the 159 in a “roll call.”

McGuire, 49, of Mashpee, had a message for the crowds that are sure to head in his direction this Memorial Day Weekend.

“They just need a big banner on the bridge, saying, ‘It’s not about the barbecue.’ Swing by the national cemetery in Bourne. ... You don’t need to know anyone there. Just ride through.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino sounded a similar theme
“There are people going down to the Cape or going to the mountains,’’ he said, standing at a lectern in front of the display of flags. “They forget, they forget the sacrifices made by so many men and women so we could have the freedom in America today.’’

Thomas Crohan, vice president of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, which organized the event, drew the crowd’s attention to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument that serves as a centerpiece to the sprawling Common.

“Its plaque reads in part, ‘To the men of Boston who died for their country on land and sea, the grateful city has built this monument that their example may speak to coming generations,” Crohan said. “We hope these flags speak to the current generation, as a solemn reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by the heroes we honor today.”

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.

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