Raymond News

Memorial Day Observance in Raymond
By Paul Pindris 5-28-13

Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer, signaling the start of backyard barbeques, trips to the beach, and planning for vacation getaways. In many towns throughout the country, though, it is also a solemn occasion to honor those that have served to defend the freedoms that we in America are privileged to enjoy. Raymond, NH was among those that presented its citizens, as well as its veterans, with a stirring tribute that was an example of small-town patriotism.

Frank Reczkowski and Robert MacLaren place a wreath at the Civil War statue on the Raymond Town Common

The weather was wonderful with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, and the well-organized parade kicked off promptly at 10:00 AM. Heading down Main Street from Harriman Road, the procession turned onto Epping Street, then made its way to the Pine Grove Cemeteries before doubling back to the town common for planned events honoring military men and women both living and deceased.

Among those joining town veterans in the parade were Raymond selectmen Frank Bourque, Peter Buckingham, Wayne Welch, and Greg Bemis, and town manager Craig Wheeler. Bands from both the Raymond High School and Iber Holmes Gove Middle School provided stirring renditions of favorite march tunes, serving to keep the pace of the marchers lively. Boy Scout Troop 3 was prominent in the procession, as were teams from the town’s youth baseball league. The Fire Department showcased several of their vehicles, always certain to impress both young and old, and the town’s ambulance service did the same.

A flawless rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was provided by the High School choir. Opening remarks were made by town manager Craig Wheeler from the podium on the bandstand, at the end of which he recited the poem “Memorial Day” written by C.W. Johnson:

We walked among the crosses
Where our fallen soldiers lay.
And listened to the bugle
As TAPS began to play.
The Chaplin led a prayer
We stood with heads bowed low.
And I thought of fallen comrades
I had known so long ago.
They came from every city
Across this fertile land.
That we might live in freedom.
They lie here 'neath the sand.
I felt a little guilty
My sacrifice was small.

I only lost a little time
But these men lost their all.
Now the services are over
For this Memorial Day.
To the names upon these crosses
I just want to say,
Thanks for what you've given
No one could ask for more.
May you rest with God in heaven
From now through evermore.

Special recognition was given to two of the oldest living veterans, Ernest Ball, who served in the Navy during World War II, and Peter Eaton, who served in the Korean Conflict in 1951. A wreath was placed at the base of the Civil War statue on the common, jointly carried by Frank Reczkowski, who served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division in 1965 -1966, and who, this day, was resplendent in his full dress uniform, as was Robert MacLaren in his dress whites, previously serving in the U.S. Navy in Korea from 1952 to 1956.

A rifle salute was provided by a five-man rifle squad of retired veterans, and a particularly moving moment then occured as Taps was played by a lone bugler at one end of the common, which was then echoed by another in the distance.

The solemness of the occasion drew to a close as those in the crowd took full advantage of the opportunity to express their thanks and gratitude to those they had come to honor. With that, all were ready to begin the long-awaited arrival of summer.

Special honorees Korean War veteran Peter Eaton and World War II veteran Ernest Ball

Members of the Honor Guard bow their heads in prayer at the Raymond Memorial Day services

Raymond Selectman Greg Bemis, Selectman Wayne Welch, Town Manager Craig Wheeler, Selectman Peter Buckingham, and Selectman Frank Bourque march in the Memorial Day parade

The Raymond High School Marching Band on parade

The Iber Holmes Gove Middle School Marching Band on parade

Boy Scout Troop 3 display their patriotism as they honor the nation’s veterans

Photos by Paul Pindris


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