EASTON — The overcast sky on May 30, 2017, provided a fitting backdrop for what VFW Commander and retired Army Capt. Mike Johnson called a somber day to remember the “generation after generation of patriots willing to lay down their lives in defense of our freedom and way of life.”
About 50 people gathered on the traditional Memorial Day at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5118 on Glebe Road to remember those who died in U.S. conflicts.
The indoor ceremony included a color guard made up of local veterans and the Knights of Columbus.
Local legislators attended, including state Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, Del. Johnny Mautz; R-37B-Talbot; Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams, Councilmen Chuck Callahan and Dirck Bartlett, and County Manager Andy Hollis.
“Remember, don’t forget,” was the motto of this Memorial Day service, Johnson said. “Sometimes we confuse Veterans Day and Memorial Day” which is “set aside to remember fallen veterans who gave their lives in service to our country.”
The ceremony was opened with a marching guard who posted the colors and an invocation by Vietnam War veteran Rev. Fred Bahr. It was closed with the playing of “taps” and a benediction by Bahr.
Three wreaths were presented during the half-hour ceremony by VFW Post 5118 Auxiliary President Betty Ann Johnson, incoming Auxiliary President Connie Erdell and Andrea Schoener of the Gen. Perry Benson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Betty Ann Johnson also read the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.
Vietnam War veteran Roland Boggs catalogued a list of rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and told attendees that it was the veteran, not the preacher, reporter, poet, campus organizer or lawyer that had guaranteed them.
Retired Lt. Col. James Mason of Easton attended the ceremony. Growing up in New York City, he remembered as “a little kid” seeing Civil War veterans in the local Decoration Day parade in Middle Village, Queens County. Bands played while the veterans rode a flat bed, he said, and “all the churches participated.”
According to usmemorial day.org, “Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.”
Johnson, a veteran Army aviator who lives in Cordova, remembered World War I veterans, including his grandfather George, leading the parade in his hometown of Ossining, N.Y.
“The whole town participated and all the stores closed,” Johnson said. The town was decorated with flowers and red, white and blue memorabilia as the parade marched down to Veterans Park baseball field.
“We are truly fortunate to live in a country worth fighting for to be afforded a way of life worth dying for,” Johnson said.