HANSON — Lining the streets with patriotic colors, adults and children alike waved and snapped photos as their family members, friends and neighbors marched by in the Hanson Memorial Day Parade Monday. Undoubtedly, many were enjoying the sunshine and warm weather at last, following our long, dreary winter.
Local veterans, church groups and town officials welcomed and reminded guests what the true meaning of the day and the cost of such freedom.
Veteran Drew Kitchen of Hanson was an infantry officer who grew up in Holden and graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 2003. He spoke at the Colebrook Cemetery about the significance of Memorial Day. A combat veteran on the front lines he served for 10 years in the United States Army, recently completing his service. He served in Iraq and Africa totaling 24 months of active tours, which included battle.
“I will never forget the many soldiers who fought alongside me and those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
He thanked his family for their support and strength while he was away as well as Hanson Veteran’s Agent Bob Arsenault for providing him confidence and courage to speak on a day, which is so difficult in the memories of his fallen comrades.
“I still remember the excitement and fear I felt giving my wife and daughter a kiss for one last time before boarding the plane to Iraq the first time,” Kitchen recalled. “As I looked at them I remember thinking ‘God please let me come home,’ and as I looked at my fellow soldiers I thought ‘God please let me bring them home.’”
Over his combined decade of service he returned home with 15 fewer soldiers.
He reminded those who live in freedom to not only honor them on Memorial day but to live in gratitude every day.
He ended his speech with an Army motto “No mission too difficult no sacrifice too great duty first.”
“God Bless America” was sung by all in attendance at the cemetery and later a medley of song was played by the middle school marching bands of Whitman and Hanson.
Ceremonies at Town Hall included a wreath-laying at the Civil War memorial along with a firing squad salute and the reading of “The Gettysburg Address” by Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young.
See more photos here.