The following speech was delivered by Howard Carter, Master Chief Petty Officer (USN Retired), to the American Legion Post 152 on Memorial Day.
First, I would like to thank Mike, Kevin and other American Legion Post 152 members for nominating me, a "younger gentleman," to speak on Memorial Day. Thank you Post 152 for welcoming new members and for your efforts here in town over the years.
This last year, since my return from the service, I became a part of the honor guard at the Legion. For those who have not seen such ceremony yet, the honor guard supports our community by providing honors that include gun salutes and taps for veterans funerals about twice a month locally, much like you are about to witness here today in honor of Memorial Day.
The Williamstown Legion Post 152 provides free services at funerals in Williamstown as well as neighboring towns, and has for decades. The Post also has a tradition of supporting youth sports clubs, scholarships, and many other local charities. Today the Legion is awarding scholarships in memory of the fallen. We can be proud of that fine legacy.
I'd also like to thank the Sons of the Legion, who set up the grounds for this event, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams for supporting the education of our nation's local men and women returning from and serving in war. Today we remember friends, family and loved ones who
Each of us brings our own personal perspective and memories to Memorial Day, which is what makes it such a unique and sacred holiday for us all. For those in the audience who feel the sting of having lost a person or persons in war who you cared for, I am sorry for your loss.
Memorial Day is for reflection. We reflect on the sacrifice of others. We remember those who died on sea, air and land during service to the United States. In them we find respect for liberty and the spirit to never quit.
When I reflect about my friends who were killed in the service, I know that I can never quit. I remember that there will be up days in my life, and there will be down days in my life, but that everyday upright above ground is a good day, and that those who died for us cannot be here for times like this. I remember that life's precious gift of being born and still living in a free nation with vast opportunity, comes in part at the cost of life in wars.
Those who I served with and those of other generations who died in war are worthy of our hard work and effort. When we remember them, we know that we need to never quit. We know to always get up and keep moving forward for what we believe in, even though we may stumble and fall in the mud from time to time.
Crying infants and young children sobbing in places of worship, a spouse holding a flag and weeping, the loss of a brave and capable person, such grief is never beyond repair. There is honor and respect in the living left behind; there is a reflection of the fallen in our good works and deeds. For our fallen brothers and sisters in arms this Memorial Day, we press on.
May the sacrifices of the fallen this day and always, continually remind us of what it means to be free people living in such an amazing place. The stunning purple mountains and full fresh air of the Berkshires brings an intoxication that is a constant reminder of life's great promises. Mount Greylock aligns by compass with the Green Mountains to the North but with bedrock similar to the Taconic range that lies west. In the service, all things that are good about America merge into one purple mountain majesty with the grief of loss, and some of those lost were our friends and loved ones. To those having a hard time dealing with death from war, please never hesitate to reach out. We are here for you. Never quit, never surrender, and always remember.
Master Chief Petty Officer