CHATHAM, NJ - For 152 years now, our nation has set aside Memorial Day to pay solemn tribute to those brave souls in uniform who gave their last full measure of devotion for this country that we love.
And while this year the global coronavirus pandemic has brought much of public life in this state and nation to a standstill, with executive orders prescribing social distancing and remaining at home to the extent possible, it has dampened neither our spirit nor our resolve to honor America’s fallen heroes to whom so much is gratefully owed.
Accordingly, out of an abundance of caution, and a prudential concern not to expose the most vulnerable among us in Chatham Borough to this merciless disease, we have chosen to mark this sacred day by virtual means, but in no less earnest and heartfelt manner.
For however we choose to observe this most hallowed occasion, it remains the case that the essential purpose of this day is to honor our fallen heroes and pay tribute to their profound courage and sacrifice on behalf of each and every one of us.
And when we ponder how best to do so the answer, I believe, is really quite simple. We remember.
We remember how our fallen heroes stood with courage and honor in their devotion to America and its constitutional principles.
We remember the families and loved ones of those brave souls – the spouses, partners, parents, children, siblings, and friends – left behind to mourn and grieve and hurt and long for those who continue today to play an essential role in their lives, but who walk, share, sing, joke, laugh, and experience life with them no more.
We remember the fundamental connectedness that undergirds every meaningful concentric social unit – family, friends, voluntary associations, community – and the profound loss to every member of these groups by the untimely but valiant passing of our fallen heroes.
Finally, we remember that our nation endures because of the dedication and courage of its countless servicemen and women, and in particular, those who are forever draped in the red, white and blue when laid to rest, thus proclaiming before the entire world that we Americans bravely and with conviction rise and fall together, as one nation and one people.
For us, the living – those of us who still have a voice – it is our responsibility, our duty, to remember our fallen heroes with love and gratitude. As human beings, we reveal ourselves not just in our words and deeds, but in our acts of remembrance. And in this particular act of remembrance, on this consecrated day, we exhibit a unanimity of values that define us as a nation and a people. Among those values are the ones demonstrated so commendably and incontestably by our fallen heroes: honor, courage, patriotism, and self-sacrifice.
So on this Memorial Day, I solemnly ask each and every one of you to join me in grateful remembrance of America’s fallen heroes – to whom this nation owes so much. Throughout our history, the cost of our blessings has been immensely dear. It is a debt we can never adequately repay. But it is a debt we must never stop trying to repay. And we do so by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice.
I will now read the names of those residents of Chatham Borough who are (or were) veterans of America’s armed services.