Native speaks at local Memorial Day ceremony

Beverly’s Russell Chadwick American Legion Post No. 389 and the Legion Family led the 2009 Community Memorial Day Activities. Their parade began with a memorial service at the Veteran’s Monument. The unit then marched to the Beverly Cemetery where this year’s guest speaker was MAJ Eric Massey, current Battalion Executive Officer for the Bobcat Battalion, Ohio University ROTC. A Beverly native, MAJ Massey has returned to his hometown, where he now resides in Beverly with his wife Lida and their three children.

A service was held on the Beverly/Waterford bridge for veterans of the sea services and then another wreath laying service was held at the Waterford Cemetery.

MAJ Massey’s Memorial Day message was very poignant and timely and Post No. 389 would like to share it with the local community.

“Good Morning – thank you all for being here. You know, it is a special thing when Patriotic Americans like yourselves gather to Honor our Fallen. As a 1987 graduate of Fort Frye, going on 22 years of active military service, my family and I are finally back in our hometown – right where we belong. And I will tell you, being back in a small town is great, but for me, there is no greater Honor than to be asked to speak on this day – the most hallowed of days – the day we pay tribute – respect – and honor to our fallen comrades. I am truly humbled to speak with you and pray that my words will even begin to approach the dignity that our Fallen Comrades deserve.

Memorial Day was born out of compassion on 25 April, 1866 when a group of Confederate widows were placing flowers on the graves of the Confederate Soldiers in the small town of Columbus, Mississippi. In doing so, they couldn’t help but notice the Union Soldiers’ graves nearby…dirty, dusty, and overgrown with briars and weeds. As the women grieved for their loved ones they realized that every Union grave represented another grieving American family, from some unknown town far away to the North. In a courageous display of honor and compassion the women made it their mission to clear away the mud and briars from the Union graves and placed flowers upon them as well. Word of this tremendous act of healing and reconciliation soon spread and became known as Decoration Day: a day where flowers were placed upon the graves of our Civil War dead in honor of their sacrifice.

And so it came to pass that in 1882 our Great Nation observed its first official Memorial Day celebration – a day for Remembrance – a day for Honoring our Dead – a day for paying tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Country.

And before these brave men and women fell on the Field of Battle, they all were volunteers. The Bible provides us one of the greatest examples of volunteerism – of service without question – a sense of duty without hesitation – the same sense of duty possessed by our Fallen Comrades. In Isaiah Chapter 6, Israel is experiencing one of the darkest periods in its history, when the people had fallen away from the word of God – and God calls on someone – anyone – to go forth and carry on with his mission. And God says: “Whom Shall I Send? And who will go for us?” – and Isaiah replies: “Here Am I. Send Me!”

Did you hear those words? Here Am I. Send Me! Isaiah doesn’t say…send John down the street…or I really don’t feel like it right now…or I don’t think my family really wants me to go…or I could be killed and I am afraid…NO! He says Here Am I…Send Me! That same spirit of LOYALTY, DUTY, SELFLESS SERVICE, HONOR, and PERSONAL COURAGE is embodied in our Fallen Comrades. And THAT QUALITY, my friends, is worthy of our remembrance – is worthy of our respect.

Many people have told me that today is not a day for a History Lesson – but I completely disagree. America’s proud history of gallantry and courage in battle has no equal. Time and time again America’s sons and daughters have been called upon to defeat tyranny around the world. It is our valiant History that binds us to our Fallen. For each and every one of us here today who has tasted the Field Of Battle – for each and every one of us who has watched our fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines die on the Field of Battle – For each and every one of us here today who has taken the fight to the enemy – We know just how LUCKY we are to be here…We know how FORTUNATE we are that our families did not have to endure our loss – and be forced to go on without us. THAT, my friends, is what binds us to the Fallen.

Whom Shall I Send? The numbers of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms who have fallen on the field of battle are staggering:

Revolutionary War 25,000 +; Civil War 600,000 +; WW1 116,000 +; WWII 400,000 +; Korea 33,000 +; Vietnam 58,000 +.

Current Global War on Terror: Approaching 5,000 and more than 34,000 WIA.

And each and every one of the 1.2 million Fallen that I have just described answered the call to duty – without hesitation – without finding a way out – without running away to Canada when the draft came – without prioritizing their WANTS over the Country’s NEEDS…and for THAT they shall be remembered!

When their Country asked: Whom Shall I Send? They replied: Send Me!

The Doughboys of WWI were called upon by our country to fight the War To End All Wars. They slugged it out in the most intense trench warfare the world has ever witnessed. Not to mention the doctrine of the day was known as the “Frontal Assault” – how does that sound? But again and again they answered the Bugle Call to commit to a frontal assault in which mere yards of ground was considered a victory in itself.

Whom Shall I Send? It is certainly not the weak or faint-hearted. But the brave men and women that respond with the spirit: Here Am I...Send Me!

D-Day, World War II. The greatest amphibious assault the world has ever seen. But how much greater would the casualties have been without the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaling the 100-foot cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc on the Normandy Coast. The Rangers fought on to the Ranger Objective and completed their mission...destroying an artillery position in which every gun was aimed at the landing site on Utah Beach.

When asked Whom Shall I Send? And Who will scale the cliffs for us? The Rangers answered the call to duty and sacrifice with a resounding – Send Me! They didn’t say it was impossible…or too difficult…they answered the call. Here Am I…Send Me!

Korea 1951: The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. PFC Pelilaau, an Infantry Soldier from C Company, 1st Bn, 23rd Infantry, was defending a small stretch of ridge on the night of 17 September when a battalion of North Koreans attacked. C Company fought valiantly, but a shortage of ammunition compelled it to retreat down the mountain. After regrouping the Americans advanced back up the ridge. Enemy fire broke the first assault, but C Company soon advanced again, recapturing the crest by dawn. But by midday C Company was once again fighting for its life as the North Korean battalion surged back up the hill. Running low on ammunition, the company commander called retreat. PFC Pililaau volunteered to stay behind to cover the withdrawal. Pililaau wielded his Browning automatic rifle with great effect until he had run out of ammunition. He then started throwing grenades, and when those were exhausted, he pulled out his trench knife and fought on until a group of North Korean soldiers shot and bayoneted him – while his comrades looked on from a sheltered position 200 yards away. Determined to avenge his death, the men of C Company swept back up the mountain. When they recaptured the position, they found over 40 dead North Koreans clustered around PFC Pililaau’s corpse. PFC Pililaau’s sacrifice had saved his comrades, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Whom Shall I Send? And Who Will Go For Us? PFC Pililaau said: Here Am I…Send Me!

Vietnam 1968: Year of the Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese Army designed to capture key areas in South Vietnam. The city of Hue and the airfield of Phu Bai came under massive attack and the NVA prepared defenses inside the city of Hue. But the U.S. Marines would have none of it and launched an assault to recapture the city of Hue – an attack that witnessed some of the fiercest house to house fighting ever waged in modern battle. The Marines recaptured the city.

The Marines did not waffle – the Marines did not waiver – the Marines did not hesitate. They simply answered the call with a Semper Fi spirit – Send Me!

Global War On Terror: Invasion of Baghdad: 4 April 2003 at the Baghdad International Airport. On that day, SFC Smith’s unit, the 3rd Infantry Div, was violently attacked by a large enemy force. SFC Smith quickly organized a hasty defense. As the fight developed, SFC Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, as well as evacuating the wounded. Fearing the enemy would overrun them, SFC Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he engaged the attacking enemy. During this action, he was mortally wounded – but not before he personally defeated the enemy attack and killed no less than 50 enemy soldiers. For his actions that day, SFC Smith was posthumously awarded the first Medal Of Honor during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Whom shall I send to repel the enemy attack? On 4 April 2003 SFC Smith stood up and said…Here Am I…Send Me!

In closing, I have found it difficult to find the words that will bring due diligence to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice…to characterize what it means to answer the call of “Whom shall I send? And Who will go for us?” And I find it even more difficult to tell the families of the Fallen how much their sacrifice means to me and this Country. The closest I have come is in a letter written not by me, but by Abraham Lincoln to a Mrs. Bixby in Boston:

“Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files…that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” – Abraham Lincoln.

God Bless our Fallen Heroes…and God Bless the United States of America.

Thank You.”