Photo Gallery | Memorial Day ceremonies in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD -- On Memorial Day, residents could best honor servicemen and women who gave their lives by working to avoid war and to ensure "we stop adding to their number," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, the speaker during ceremonies at Pittsfield Cemetery.
Spectators lined North Street and applauded the veteran units and honor guards that marched during the annual parade, which stepped off at 9 a.m. from City Hall. Numerous veterans organizations, city and state officials, high school students and a large contingent of young scouts were among those participating.
At the cemetery off Wahconah Street, rain threatened and spattered drops through the trees but never developed into a downpour. Well over 100 veterans and other residents observed the solemn rites, which ended with a 21-gun salute by members of Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 65 and taps performed by members of the Pittsfield High School Band.
Farley-Bouvier, introduced by Francis Tremblay, president of Chapter 65, who led the ceremony, said she would seek help from Abraham Lincoln's remarks at Gettysburg to ensure she could find words adequate to honor those who died in service to their country.
In the quiet of the cemetery, it might be possible to hear "echoes of voices of long ago," she said, asking the gathering to imagine a color guard with service personnel dating from every war from the American Revo-
lution to Afghanistan.
"In so many ways, they shared so many qualities of all those who served throughout our history," Farley-Bouvier said.
Referring to Lincoln's Gettys-
burg Address, she said his "simple but profound words" put "the soldiers at the very center" of the 1863 address.
While words of remembrance will likely fade, the world "can never forget what they did here," she said, quoting Lincoln.
"And this applies to all who served," she said.
We should also remember the worry and anguish families of those who died or were wounded in war, Farley-Bouvier said, "and to be grateful for that sacrifice."
The spotlight is now on allegations of inadequate services at some Veterans Administra-
tion medical facilities, Farley-Bouvier said. Massachusetts law-
makers have called for a complete investigation, she said, but added that this state has been "first in the nation" in providing support for its veterans.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi thanked all veterans who have served and asked the gathering to remember those "who made the ultimate sacrifice."
The mayor also cited those veterans and others who annually decorate the graves of Pitts-
field area veterans in time for Memorial Day.
The day is not "a boisterous celebration, not a day of fireworks," Bianchi said, but "correctly the most solemn of American holidays; it is a day of reflection."
He also asked for prayers on behalf of those now serving and their families waiting at home.
During the ceremony, Trem-
blay read from the remarks of Gen. Joshua Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans' organization, during one of the first observances of what later became Memorial Day in 1868.
The ceremony concluded with the reading of the names of those local veterans who had died during the past year and placement of poppies on an urn honoring veterans of all wars.
The PHS band provided patriotic music during the 30-minute parade and during ceremonies at Pittsfield Cemetery.
Veteran F. Martha Green, a member of VVA Chapter 65 of Pittsfield, sang "America the Beautiful."
To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_therrien