Veterans of American conflicts stretching back to World War II gathered on the Natick Town Common on Memorial Day, May 30, to pay tribute to brothers and sisters in arms who never returned home.

“The graves at Arlington and at countless cemeteries worldwide remind us that freedom is not free, and it has a cost,” said Brig. Gen. John J. McGuiness, Natick Soldier Systems Center senior commander, told those in attendance. “The Soldiers resting there lived supporting the lives and the values that created the backbone of our nation.

“These brave men and women left the safety of their sovereign soil to defeat tyrants, ensure justice and fulfill the promise of safety and security of our citizens and the global community. Their lives were dedicated not to conflict or death but to compassion and life.”

Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka said she was always impressed by the turnout for Memorial Day ceremonies in Natick.

I’m truly humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Spilka said. “Memorial Day is a special day for all of us. It’s important for us to remember the sacrifices that were made for us by all of the men and women throughout the many generations of this country.

“I wanted to thank all of the veterans and the active military here today. No amount of thanks can repay what you have done. We have asked much of you, and in return, you have given even more.”

Massachusetts State Representative Alice Peisch echoed Spilka’s sentiments.

“The Town of Natick always has a tremendous turnout,” Peisch said. “It’s, I think, of enormous importance that we continue every year to remember and honor those who we have lost in the service of our country. I think it’s equally important that every other day of the year we remember those who are continuing to take great risks on our behalf.”

Massachusetts State Representative David Linsky drew special attention to Vietnam veterans, pointing out that “The Moving Wall,” honoring those who died and are still missing from that war, will come to Natick June 9 to 12.

“This is a time when we have to come together as a country and make sure that we’re fully healed,” said Linsky, “and make sure that we fully honor all of those who served in the 1960s.”
Charles Hughes, chairman of the Natick Board of Selectman, said that fallen service members had protected the rights that we all enjoy.

“As a country, we come together this one day in a year to show that we do not forget the sacrifice of those men and women have made for all of us,” Hughes said. “We must continue to appreciate our freedoms and protect the memories of these men and women so their sacrifices shall never be in vain.”

McGuiness asked that the audience also keep in mind those missing from past wars, the Gold Star families, and the service members still serving around the world today.

“Somewhere on a remote mountaintop in Afghanistan, on the horn of Africa, or in Iraq or Korea, there’s a Soldier far away from home performing (his) duties and willing to lay his life on the line for his nation,” McGuiness said. “Remember those Soldiers, support their families, and never forget the missing, and let’s all rejoice in their lives.”