To the Editor:
Memorial Day is, of course, designed to remember those members who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans – established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.
On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the many organizations that came together to make the Memorial Day ceremony on the pier in Bar Harbor a success. First and foremost, is the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, who worked with us to ensure it all worked! Without their tireless efforts and assistance it might never have worked as well.
Thanks to the Reverend Sue Cole of the Church of Our Father for offering the prayer and to Senator Brian Langely, who took the time out of his busy schedule to act as our keynote speaker. Hannaford provided the refreshments which the Chamber’s team dispensed, and the Gospel Gents returned to provide inspiration prior to the ceremony. The Emerson Band arrived to perform just before the ceremony and provide patriotic accompaniment during the parade of the veterans, lead down the pier by the Fire Department/Boy Scout Color Guard, as well as a rendition of the National Anthem as part of the ceremony. The Fire Department also brought two ladder trucks down and hung a huge flag between them. And Jai Higgins again offered a poem during the ceremony.
Special thanks also to our wonderful Coast Guard station in Southwest Harbor. They sent over one of the boats and a crew to help by laying the wreath in the bay, while Brian Booher played “Taps.” A very professional act to what is to me probably the most important and moving part of the ceremony. The Coast Guard stayed around after to offer tours and answer questions for anyone who cared to visit them.
And I would be seriously remiss if I did not thank the members of my Post, as well as Mike Gurtler and our Boy Scout Troop for supporting me all the way. The Scouts got up really early to come to the Post and help get the chairs down to the pier and afterwards helped us get them back and up over the stairs (as did some other volunteers).
I love that it is one of our own Scouts who recited the poem “In Flanders Fields,” and this year, he took the time to explain the significance of the poppies. My comrades at the post stepped up when asked to help set up and then break down and get the ceremonies at the various cemeteries completed as well.
Also thanks to the members of our Post 25 Auxiliary who joined us to help hand out the poppies and lend any other assistance necessary.
George Edwin Kirk Post 25