Monday, May 30, 2016

A Grateful Town Remembers

Town flag at half staff Amherst town center

Over 100 people of all ages and walks of life turned out at the VFW Post 754 this morning -- including police, fire, politicians, veterans and families -- to honor and remember all those who have paid the ultimate price to keep us free.

A reminder of course that freedom is never free and must be defended with utmost vigilance, as the men and women of our armed forces have done for 240 years.

 Master of Ceremonies Selectman Doug Slaughter.  Flowers from SB and Boys & Girl Scouts

Guest speaker Ray Elliot, who served four years in the South Pacific, reminded the crowd how far we've come as a nation in the past 100 years.

 Ray Elliot

His father before him, William S Elliot, a Buffalo Soldier, had served in France in WW1 after white commanders in the US refused to lead black soldiers in battle because they questioned their intelligence and bravery.

 William S. Elliot

His all black squadron would go on to win the highest honor France could bestow on troops -- black or white.

Even on that infamous December 7th, "a date which will live in infamy", the US army was still segregated.  Ray Elliot told the hushed audience he was once chased down by a white crowd in Biloxi, Mississippi when he strayed outside the black district, fearing he would be lynched.

Black troops would flash each other a "Double V Victory" sign using both hands to indicate not only victory over the Axis powers trying to enslave the world, but also as a sign of victory over racism at home.  

At the conclusion of his speech, which had centered around respect, he was given a standing ovation.

 State Representative Ellen Story

In her last appearance at a Memorial Day ceremony as our State Representative  Ellen Story reminded us that this somber ceremony tradition started out soon after the Civil War when citizens would visit cemeteries to leave flowers on the graves of the fallen, both Union and Confederate.

Veterans Agent Steven Connor

Steven Connor announced The Healing Wall, a portable version of the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. will be coming to the Eastern States Exposition this August.

The names of all 58,307 troops killed or MIA, out of 3 million who served during that controversial conflict, are inscribed on the wall so we as a nation can never forget them.

Today we also remembered all those Amherst residents who served their country, lived to tell about it, but have passed away since our last Memorial Day:

Click to enlarge/read


demps said...

One correction: it's the VFW Post 754. We work with the Legion, but we're separate organizations.


Anonymous said...

great story!