Inspiring ceremony on Memorial Day

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2021

On Monday, when the sun finally shined on Smithfield on the final day of the long holiday weekend, it’s hard to find fault with those who opted for an early start on the water, the golf course or their backyard grills.

But we were inspired when more than 100 people assembled midday to observe the reason for the holiday that has become the unofficial start of summer. Old and young gathered at the Isle of Wight Veterans Memorial in downtown Smithfield for a beautiful tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in service to America.

The memorial, funded by Alan Monette, whose father, V.H. Monette, founded a company that wholesaled products to military exchanges around the world during the Cold War, was the perfect setting for the somber ceremony, marred only by the occasional whirr of passing motorcycles on Church Street.

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We commend American Legion Post 49 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8545 for organizing the annual ceremony, an important reminder that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans were possible due to the soldiers who defended them, starting with the Revolutionary War that established our nation’s independence and reinforced time and again over the centuries. As keynote speaker Dale Chapman noted Monday, World War II spread America’s democratic ideals throughout Europe, expanding the circle of freedom-loving people.

The Smithfield High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) posted and retired the colors Monday, a heartening display of patriotism by a generation that, fortunately, has known war only in textbooks and on movie screens. They were mere infants during the principal part of the War on Terror that followed Sept. 11, 2001.

To that point, state Delegate Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, gave the crowd a worthwhile “homework” assignment, which we endorse for our readers: Tell a couple of children you cross paths with this week about the reason America celebrates Memorial Day and the ultimate sacrifice by many in service to our nation. May our young people never take peacetime for granted.