Members of the Apostolic Church in Rumford pay tribute to U.S. veterans and their families during the Memorial Day ceremony in Rumford and Mexico on Monday. Linda Burdo holds Stefhanie Bright in front of Tom Hoyt and Debra Briggs. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

RUMFORD — Vietnam War veteran John Madigan Jr. of Rumford paid tribute Monday to the 1 million men and women who have died serving in the U.S. military.

“We continue to lose heroes every day in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and in military training accidents in missions around the world,” he said in his Memorial Day address. “Some were only teenagers, and many were just in their 20s,” but regardless of their age, to their families they are forever young, healthy and strong, he said.

Guest speaker John Madigan Jr. speaks at the Memorial Day ceremony in Rumford and Mexico on Monday. He said people should always remember that freedom is not free. “It’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price.” Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

Madigan said from the American Revolution to current operations against terrorism, 1 million American men and women have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in wars and conflicts.

“We honor all of them, not just those with the highest medals or the heroes who fought in the most famous battles,” he said. “They all died so we can continue to cherish the things that we love — freedom, family and country. That is why we are gathered here on Memorial Day. To honor the memory of our fallen warriors who have given everything for their country.”

Madigan said in each generation, brave men and women will always step forward to take the oath of allegiance as members of the U.S. armed forces, willing to fight and, if necessary, die for the sake of freedom.

“Nobody can replace these fallen heroes, especially in the eyes of their families,” he said. “But we can offer shoulders to cry on, and assurances that their loved ones’ sacrifice will not be forgotten. We cannot bring back the departed but we can honor their sacrifice by caring for those whom they loved the most.”

People show their respect as a Mountain Valley High School band member plays taps at the close of Memorial Day ceremonies Monday in Rumford.

Madigan, the town manager of Rangeley, former state legislator and former town manager of Rumford and Mexico, said people should always remember freedom is not free.

“It’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price,” he said. “A price paid that enables us to have ceremonies and observances like this in communities across our great country.”

Madigan said June 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ invasion on the coast of Normandy, France, during World War II.

“Labels like we hurl today — like Democrat, Republican, red state, blue state — matter little when facing mines and machine gun fire while charging a beach,” he said.

Monday’s ceremonies at the Rotary Memorial Green in Rumford and the Veterans Memorial Green in Mexico were held on a picture-perfect day. The ceremonies and parade were arranged by Napoleon Ouellette American Legion Post 24 of Rumford.

Serving as parade marshals: Edward J. Roach Jr., commander of VFW Post 1641; Glen Tompkins, Korean War veteran; and William Petrie, past commander of American Legion Post 24.

Following the parade, Post 24 hosted an open house and a luncheon.

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Photos of local World War II veterans are displayed on the back of an antique automobile during Memorial Day ceremonies in Rumford and Mexico on Monday. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

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