NORTHFIELD — The rain didn’t keep residents away with around 50 people in attendance for a Memorial Day event in Northfield Monday.
The event to remember those who lost their lives while serving in the military was held on Depot Square and put on by American Legion Post 63.
It was a cloudy, wet morning, but there was still a strong turnout for the annual event. After the ceremony, residents were offered hot dogs and other refreshments at the Legion.
The event started with the recitation of the pledge of allegiance and then the National Anthem was played. A wreath was laid in front of the Civil War monument which sits on the common.
Col. Michael D. Krause, retired, the post’s historian, said the day is about “service above self.”
“We honor our fallen comrades here, not only historically, but I’m going to suggest personally. We’re here to commemorate those who served and those who continue to serve,” Krause said.
He also called the event “the great unmasking” because no one in attendance at the outdoor event had a mask on. Krause said he was delighted to see unmasked neighbors and the event marked the beginning of the end of the coronavius pandemic.
Krause told stories about events he had witnessed or was involved in, to personalize the holiday and what it stands for.
He said it’s been nearly 20 years since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Krause said he was in attendance for a 9/11 memorial in New York City and the police commissioner told people to “never forget” what happened that day.
“To commemorate this Memorial Day, let us not forget,” Krause said.
In May 2011, he said he got a phone call late at night from a member of SEAL Team Six who left a message saying “We got him.” He was referring to the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.
Krause said he helped train the SEAL team, which was one of the highlights of his life.
In August 2011, he said he went to Virginia for a service for the SEALs who were lost when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Krause said the service included large screens showing service members as husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and lovers.
“You see, we sustained horrific casualties when a Chinook helicopter was ambushed and shot down. Thirty-eight sailors, airmen, rangers lost their lives, 22 of them from SEAL Team Six,” he said.
Krause said one of the team members was buried at sea. He said after the ashes were returned to the sea, his team members jumped in carrying a glass of tequila.
“To toast (the SEAL) in the same element, underwater,” he said.
Krause said the memorial service was packed and included over 300 family members of those who were lost from all over the country. He said they sat next to family members of those in special forces who were lost without acknowledgment.
Krause said because of the scale of loss in this shot down helicopter, the SEAL team could no longer operate in the shadows.
“Families needed to grieve and be sustained publicly in their grief,” he said.
Krause said there were moving speeches where the fallen were remembered as exemplary, dedicated and accomplished professionals.
Gov. Phil Scott also released a statement about Monday’s holiday.
He said: “Today, we pause to mourn, remember, and honor the brave men and women who lost their lives defending our country, our way of life, and the freedoms and liberties we hold dear.
“Since the birth of our nation, thousands of Vermonters have answered the call. They don’t do it for the glory or fame, they do it for our country and all of us. Their dedication often puts them in harm’s way and has, unfortunately, cost too many their lives. This is why we can never let their sacrifices be in vain.
“We must always strive to uphold the values of the nation they fought to preserve and work to build a more perfect union in their honor.
“So today, I ask all Vermonters to reflect on the courage of those who left their homes to serve all of us, but never made it back to the loved ones they left behind.”