Memorial Day: The Ceremony
... Jim Milano, at 97, asks us to remember
from Speaker James Milano, former Mayor of Melrose
Jim Milano, whose family has been part of city goverment for the past century, was the keynote speaker at the annual Memorial Day Services at the Veterans Knoll in Wyoming Cemetery. Now at age 97, he speaks without benefit of either notes or script, and so the following was Jim's own reconstruction of his message, done at the Mirror's request:
Today we come to this hallowed place with a feeling of somber remembrance. Today is the greatest day in the history of our Nation. It is a day when we look back -- to the very beginning. From that day and to this very day, it has been a Nation of Remembrance, a Nation of Freedom, a Nation of Equality of man. This is a day created by the highest echelons of government.
At a time and a place as this, one searches for the proper words, the words that could possibly equate to the great sacrifices made from the very begining and even to this very day; the gift of life; the greatest possible sacrifice, that of laying down one's life for our Nation.
Oh, I know so many friends here today by name. Not all of course. There may be before me a mother and a father who has lost a son or a daughter to our country. In situations as this one, there are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives all over our beloved land grieving, shedding a tear. And as they shed their tears you and I join with them in tears, in their moment of sadness. How proud to shed tears. A sign of love.
Try to evaluate their sacrifice. Within our hearts there is a surging of the blood. A welling from within, in cities and hamlets all over our country this is a day when "We Remember."
We visit our Nation's Capitol. We see those great places, The Nation's Capitol where laws are enacted; the White House where laws are approved or negated; the Supreme Court where laws are determined to be in accordance with our Constitution; that great tall edifice named for the first president and the Capitol city itself.
And now it is time to take out leave. But first, we cross the Potomac River. We are now in the State of Virginia. We enter that vast area you know as well as I. It is the Arlington National Cemetery. The most tremendous gift created so many years ago. I repeat, so difficult, so difficult to express our gratitude.
As a young man a good father told me about a similar spot created in France after World War I and he quoted the words to me, In Flanders Field the Poppies Grow ...
In Arlington National Cemetery no poppies grow but in that vast land 300,000 headstones express the gratitude of our country. There in Arlington National Cemetary lie Presidents, generals, admirals and then so many, not of lower rank, men and women of special rank. There must be another word, even more fitting, for you to say.
And now as we await the simple words of Taps, "Day is Gone, Gone the Sun."
Let us take our leave and go in peace.
June 1, 2007