'We remember': Cheshire Memorial Day ceremony pledges not to forget those lost in war
CHESHIRE — The Rev. Bill Furey treated his fair share of casualties as a Marine medic in the Vietnam War.
For 50 years, the words of one severely wounded soldier has stayed with the pastor of Berkshire Union Chapel in Lanesborough.
As the injured Marine was being loaded into a medevac helicopter following a battle near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1969, Furey recalled on Monday afternoon what the young man said to him, "I don't want my family to forget me."
The clergyman added: "We are gathered here because we have not forgotten — we remember."
Furey shared the story as part of his opening remarks during a remembrance service following the community's annual Memorial Day Parade through the center of town.
The Cheshire Police Honor Guard led the procession, featuring the Cheshire Fire Department — Hoosac Hose Co. and Hoosac Valley High School Band, to the town cemetery on West Mountain Road, where dozens of the town's veterans are at rest.
Select Board member Jason Levesque read the names of the 14 residents who've died in combat since World War I.
Select Board Chairman Robert Ciskowski wondered aloud the last thing the veterans remembered about Cheshire or the last view of the town they had before they perished on the battlefield.
"We'll never know," he said. "Those things are lost in the fog of history."
Ciskowski did apologize for one tradition falling by the wayside this year: no childrens' essays. Each year, elementary school students from Cheshire submit essays to the Select Board. The board picks the best ones read by the young authors at the Memorial Day service. The board received none to be read on Monday, something Ciskowski hopes to avoid in 2020.
Fourteen-year-old Mia Francesconi, daughter of Cheshire Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi, kept one tradition going: the reading of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."
Mia proudly and flawlessly read the 272-word speech that Lincoln delivered on Nov. 19, 1863.
"It was cool that I got to repeat a president's words," she said afterward to an Eagle reporter.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com and 413-496-6233.
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