Solemn Memorial Day ceremony on Milford Oval

MILFORD – Not long after the Civil War, a old woman in the South was decorating the graves of Union soldiers and someone asked her if she realized she was honoring the enemy.

“Yes,” she said, “and I also know in the North there’s a loving wife or mother who is grieving.”

Memorial Day was founded to honor the 600,000 Civil War dead, and now we use it to honor the more than one million people who have died in all our country’s wars, said Gary Williams, pastor of the Burns Hill Church, during solemn ceremonies on the Milford Oval on May 26.

“We are not here to honor or cherish war, but to honor and cherish those who gave their lives,” he said. “We have a responsibility to honor them with grateful thanks.”

The Gettysburg Address was read during the ceremonies, and Williams said President Lincoln would have been surprised and discouraged that people remember the words of his speech more than they remember the names of those who died during that turning point in American history.

The ceremonies started at the town’s West Street Cemetery, continued to each war memorial and ended at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Harley-Sanford Post.

Participants included the VFW, VFW Auxiliary, Boy and Girl Scouts and the Milford High School Marching Band. The Souhegan Valley Chorus sang from the Oval Bandstand.

Enjoy your pool, your barbecues, your shopping, Williams said, because our prosperity and our freedoms were won at “a terrible price.”