BETHEL —  Several seats along the front of the Memorial Day observance at Veteran’s Park saved for veterans were left unfilled and when the Mahoosuc Community Band played the medley, “Marches of Armed Forces,” just one man stood at a time.

For a few of the songs no men or women stood to be honored  by their military strain. A participant later commented that there were fewer men still alive from the world wars and the Vietnam War veterans didn’t want to remember.

Still the service was poignant. Jane Ryerson read “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written in the back of an ambulance, by Veteran John McCrae on May 3, 1915. “We are the dead. Shot days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

American Legion President Barb Dion introduced Lily Burrill, Miss Poppy, and read her long family history of men and women who served in the military.

“Our collective presence is important. It matters that we are here. All of us are here. Thank-you,” said Legion Commander Scott Cole. “…We validate this tremendous loss of life with hope that somehow these deaths furthered our nation’s ideals.”

When the service was over and nearly everyone had gone home, Vietnam Veteran Irving York of Bethel was lingering at the wall. He said he and his three brothers had served but the macular degeneration in his eyes made it hard for him to find their names on the wall.

While York and his brothers were not seated at the front for the service, they were remembered this Memorial Day.

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