WAYLAND, Mass. (May 30, 2017) -- Colonel Charles H. May, military deputy director of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, gave the keynote address May 29 at the Town of Wayland's Memorial Day program.

May spoke to a gathering at Wayland's Lakeview Cemetery after a parade that traveled just over a mile from Wayland Middle School. State Rep. Carmen Gentile and state Rep. Alice H. Peisch also addressed the attendees.

A color guard from Natick Soldier Systems Center also participated in the Town of Natick's Memorial Day parade.

At Wayland, May noted that the day also marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy, who in his inaugural address in January 1961 urged Americans to ask what they could do for their country. All these years later, May echoed Kennedy's call to service.

"I cannot hammer that home enough," May said. "If it wasn't for service and people putting everything on the line -- good, bad or indifferent -- we wouldn't have the greatest nation in the world that we live in.

"Look to your left and your right and think about what you can do for this country. I cannot push service enough."

Lea Anderson, chair of the Wayland Board of Selectmen, welcomed those in attendance and pointed out that more than 1 million American men and women in uniform had died in this nation's many conflicts.

"This is a staggering number, almost too large to fathom," Anderson said. "And these million brave patriots over the centuries have left behind tens of million, perhaps hundreds of millions, of friends and family to figure out a way to go on without their beloved sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends. Let us thank them and remember their sacrifice."

Peisch had also referenced Kennedy's call to service in her remarks.

"Certainly, those whom we honor on Memorial Day embody those words, as they gave their lives for their country," Peisch said. "We are all indebted to those men and women, and I believe that we can respond to President Kennedy's challenge by ensuring that as a country, a commonwealth and as individuals, we provide generous support to the family members of those who sacrificed and, equally important, to those who return from today's conflicts, not only by honoring them at events such as these, but by providing every day what they need to lead productive lives.

"Whether it is medical care, additional education or job training, we must be sure to support our returning military men and women, each and every day."

Gentile pointed out that more than 37,000 Massachusetts residents had died in the nation's conflicts.

"Please don't forget … why we have this special day," Gentile said. "Memorial Day isn't just about honoring veterans; it's honoring those who lost their lives. Memorial Day is a day we as a country come together to honor and remember our service men and women who answered America's call to service and paid the ultimate price. Memorial Day is the time for Americans, as one body, to stand up and say: 'Thank you, we remember you, we are grateful to you.'"

Gentile added that he was proud that Massachusetts does more for its veterans than any state in the union.

"We thank our veterans by fighting for them when they can't," said Gentile, "by ensuring they and their survivors get the care they earned when they wrote a blank check up to and including their very lives."
In his invocation, Chap. (Maj.) Gerald W. Woodford Jr., Natick's installation chaplain, spoke of those who had laid down their lives for their country.

"Our children must know who they were, what they did and why they did it," Woodford said. "To do anything less would be a disservice to their sacrifice and their memories. Let us not forget."

Again and again in his address, May returned to his theme of service.

"So it's Memorial Day, it's remembrance, it's a time to get together, honor and think about service," May said. "Service has gotten us to this point and service will continue indefinitely."