I’d like to thank everyone who participated in or attended this year’s ceremony. Prior to the event, I received calls from individuals who could not attend due to a variety of reasons. They asked me to print my speech in my weekly column to which I agreed.

Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time preparing a speech and could not produce one prior to the publishers’ deadline last week. So, this week I have included a transcription of what I said on Memorial Day. It wasn’t a prepared speech and may not be grammatically correct, but it was spoken from the heart. It is truly an honor to live in a community dedicated to keeping alive the memory of our fallen.


Thank you for coming out today. As has been said prior to myself, this is Memorial Day. Unlike Veteran’s Day, this is the day that we take a moment from our busy lives and our schedules to remember those who never did come back home. It is why we stand here today among these monuments inscribed with the names of the fallen.

Memorial Day is a very important holiday for me and my family. My husband is a combat veteran who retired after 26 years of service. My stepson is a combat veteran. Two of my great uncles served in WWII, one captured by the Germans and later rescued by the Allies. My brother served one tour in the Army and I retired after 22 years.

So, you would think writing a speech about the importance of this holiday would have come easily to me. To my dismay, it proved quite the opposite. Despite all of my attempts, I just couldn’t seem to get the words right. How could I capture in words what it truly meant to make the ultimate sacrifice? I had never been in combat. I had never lost a family member or a friend to war. I have never had to carry the memories of lives cut too short, far from home, away from family and friends.

But there are those of you out there today who do, and it is to you, our combat veterans, that we owe a debt of gratitude. You have been on the front lines and, because of that, you keep the memories of our fallen alive. How many times have we walked by the monuments with the names inscribed of the fallen?

For us, some of these people we know. From those of the Civil War, there is none left of us with that personal connection. The same for WW1. But recently I have had the honor and the privilege to speak to two WWII vets within two weeks of each other. Both of them are in their 90s, and despite their differences and their experiences during the war (one served in the European theater and one served in the Pacific Theater) and despite the fact that 70 years plus have gone by since they were in combat, they all knew the names of the people that they lost while they were serving so far from home.

This is our opportunity to keep the essence of what it means to serve and make the ultimate sacrifice alive. These combat veterans, although difficult at times, have offered to share with me and with you their stories. Because of that, those names on those monuments that you read today are not just names. They are lives. We may not have known them personally, but they lived and they died way too soon.

Recently my family and I had the opportunity to celebrate two graduations. Three generations were sitting around our table. I am almost 53 years old and when I looked at them and I knew that Memorial Day was coming around the corner and it was our opportunity to remember those lives lost, I thought about how fortunate I was to not have to pay that price. How fortunate I was that I was the recipient of so many blessings because of their sacrifice.

So, as I conclude, I want to thank you – those who have served and those who have not. For those who have not served, thank you for coming out today. Thank you for keeping their memories alive. Even though we may not carry them in our hearts, we rally around those who do. We listen to their stories. We share them with others and their lives will always be remembered. Thank You.

Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at char_lovett@hotmail.com.