2017 Memorial Day Address
Presented by Mayor Ruben Pineda
Good morning and thank you to American Legion Post 300, its Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6791 and its Auxiliary for the honor of addressing you at this year’s Memorial Day Observance. Like all of you gathered here this morning, I am grateful for the chance to pay tribute to our fallen heroes and their families.
I also wish to thank the young people who are here and commend them for recognizing the importance of this day of remembrance. Thank you to the West Chicago Community High School Band, under the direction of Steve Govertsen, for the stirring medley of patriotic songs and the playing of Taps. I cannot tell you how much it means to all of us that you are here to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have given us the freedom we cherish through their ultimate sacrifice, the gift of their lives.
The very first Memorial Day, known as Decoration Day because of the strewing of flowers upon the graves of the dead, took place at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868. Then Ohio Congressman and veteran James A. Garfield delivered remarks in honor of the Civil War dead. He noted the solemnness of the occasion by beginning, “I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”
Garfield knew that words could never come close to conveying the deeds of the fallen and he clearly expressed his desire to distinguish this day as being first and foremost to honor those, who as he put it, “for love of country accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
I would also like to read a segment of the poem “The Fallen” by poet Laurence Binyon;
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old: Age Shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
The world has changed much since James Garfield & Laurence Binyon uttered those words and yet they seem as appropriate today as they did when first spoken.
Since then, our country has withstood tremendous wartime casualties and our active military continues to serve us, defending our country and putting their lives at risk in dangerous parts of the world like the Middle East and elsewhere.
I am grateful to share with you that my nephew, Sergeant Edward Thomas Pineda, a graduate of West Chicago’s class of 2003, has completed 6 tours of service and has come home permanently to his family and community. Thank you for your support over the last 5 years mentioning him and the 12 years he served our country.
This year, our nation honors the 100th Anniversary of the United States entering WWI and all those who served, including those who never made it home. Our own City Museum will memorialize some of the many West Chicago WWI veterans in its blog, A Sense of Place, as well as create programming about the historic war that changed humanity.
As we conclude our Observance here at our Soldiers and Sailors Monument in this historic Oakwood Cemetery and proceed to our cars, I ask you to reflect on the American flags waving softly, silently, in the breeze on the gravesites of veterans here, as well as Glen Oak, Calvary and St. John Cemetery, and in cemeteries all across this country. It’s the silence of this day, this moment, that most stirs our hearts, because of its finality.
Thank you all for being here today to honor the heroes that gave their lives, to give us our freedom.
God bless the men and women who died for our country, God bless their families and all the people of West Chicago and God bless the United States of America.