BY DIANA BIERMAN
While some celebrate Memorial Day by tossing a few juicy burgers and hot dogs on the grill, it’s important to take time to pause and reflect upon about what the holiday is really all about—to remember, honor and acknowledge the heroes who lost their lives protecting our country.
The Village of Suffern is just one of the many villages and towns in Rockland that held a parade to commemorate the bittersweet holiday, held by The Ramapo Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2973 and the Fromm-Maxwell-DeBaum American Legion Post #859. Joining the Veterans were the Ladies Auxiliaries, Girl and Boy Scouts, Suffern Police and Fire Departments, Suffern High School Marching Band and elected officials such as Mayor Dagan LaCorte. The parade stepped off at the intersection of Orange and Lafayette Avenues, marching on Lafayette Avenue to the Soldiers Monument at Washington Avenue.
Following the parade, a ceremony was held so that the true meaning of Memorial Day could be expressed among many. “Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stopped exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early,” said Patrick Casper, American Legion Post #859, Suffern.
“Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough,” Casper continued. “The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children remember every day. The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving and the voice of a loved one heard as a distant memory in one’s mind are constant reminders that they’re gone. We owe it to heroes that died and the loved ones left behind to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered and their service to this nation will always be honored.”
Other officials reiterated the importance of thanking those who protected and defended our country and showing appreciation for the battles they overcame. “Memorial Day is a day that unites our country in remembrance of our fallen heroes and recognizes all they did for us while expressing our gratitude to these individuals,” said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee. “The contribution and dedication of the men and women who have served and who are presently serving our country cannot be measured and neither should our appreciation for them. They are an inspiration to us all; their sacrifice should be honored every day, not only with parades and speeches, but by fulfilling the promises we as a country made to them.”
Shawn Revell, a Suffern native, who has served two combat tours in Iraq and is currently an infantrymen with the first cavalry division stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, said that civilians who aren’t part of the military may not fully comprehend how meaningful Memorial Day and every day is to him and others serving.
“We live each and every day happy because of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave their lives fighting for the right to do so,” he explained. “Memorial Day is a day to remember those who didn’t come home. We go to war thinking we won’t make it back. Those who do are stuck living with the fact that not everyone made it home. Their families and the service member are forever in our thoughts and prayers. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have nothing to fight for.”
“We love our country and what it stands for. And we owe it all to those who didn’t make it back,” he added.
The ceremony concluded with a wreath placement to honor fallen soldiers, a lowering of an American flag to half-mast and some patriotic songs.