~ Submitted by O.C. O’Connor
On Tuesday, May 16, a unique, retrospective memorial arrived on “The Oval” at 200 Springs Road. The Fallen Heroes Memorial was present at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital through noon on Saturday, Military Appreciation Day. The exhibit was open to the public, offering a time to remember, respect, and commemorate our Veterans, who lost their lives during the war on terror since September 11, 2001.
Welcome the VAU Fallen Heroes Memorial
The 28’ long by 6’ tall traveling memorial indelibly identifies over 7,400 names of the heroes who gave their lives protecting our freedoms. Part of the uniqueness of this memorial lies in the presentation of those who gave their lives, listed alphabetically, since 9/11. Each name, rank, and branch of service is permanently etched in red, silver, or blue dog tags. The fifty Gold Stars represent the Gold Star Families who continue to pay an emotional price each and every day.
Bedford was the third stop in the memorial’s Eastern tour of 32 locations this year; the Western tour will travel to another 15 locations. With the assistance of an all-volunteer force run by Veterans, as is our military, the first rendition of the memorial began in 2018. Vetsau.com/memorial details their stories in-depth and offers an opportunity to contribute to this unselfish effort; again, as do our military members and their families.
American Legion Riders Chapter 221 from the Anthony-Hunt-Hamilton, American Legion Family Post 221 in Bedford, MA escorted the memorial to the Bedford VA and provided an escort on Saturday when the memorial traveled to the Boston Wounded Veteran Run in Malden.
Our Bedford Community shares a deep appreciation of our national freedoms—first identified in the Revolutionary War with the Bedford Flag as being the very first flag carried into battle by our own Minutemen. We have a shared compassion for caring for our Veterans with decades of volunteering at the Bedford VA. President Lincoln’s quote and sentiment, adopted by the VA as their motto: “To care for him (or her) who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” runs in our collective veins. We can never forget the debts paid by others for our liberties—never.
Last month, Bedford’s Pole Capping preceded the April 19 reenactment of the Battle on Lexington Green, and the Shot Heard Round the World on Concord’s North Bridge.
In just a few weeks, we will conduct our Memorial Day Ceremonies all around town. The Bedford VA will again play a role in the ceremonies by providing their Spirit Tram for our Veterans to participate in the parade more fully.
A full listing of all ceremony and event details will be listed at the bottom of this article. Friday evening, an interactive Candlelight Ceremony began at 6 p.m. There were brief personal reflections from speakers, a wreath-laying, patriotic songs, and an opportunity to closely inspect and honor the names on the dog tags. A battlefield cross always accompanies the Fallen Heroes Memorial. US Flags will be available to plant a memory of the thousands of stories each Veteran and family has individually or in the collective.
Saturday, May 21t is Armed Forces Day.
Bedford is fortunate to have an active-duty installation in our town. Those military families receive some of the best high school education and experiences of their careers right here in Bedford.
Before the memorial moved on to its next location on Saturday morning, there was a Blessing for all Armed Forces and their families at the VA.
The Veterans and Athletes United (VUA) webpage (vetsau.com), lists a quote from Sun Tzu: “In every chaos, there is also opportunity.” Their stated mission: To empower wounded, injured, and ill veterans to fully live their lives and honor our fallen military heroes. Please visit their website; you will find an opportunity to assist their mission.
Their success stories exemplify spectacular results when we all work together. Their programs certainly address the ever-present mental health concerns of our returning Veterans. May is Mental Health Month. The Bedford VA hospital and programs like the VUA know the necessity of finding cures to heal the invisible wounds of mental health.
After the bugler blows the final note of taps, a deafening silence continues…….. We will never forget.
We can never forget the ties between our Bedford community and the Bedford VA, and Hanscom Air Force Base. Memorials such as the Fallen Heroes Memorial travel far and wide to remind us all that Freedom is Not Free.
A Collection of Images from the Memorial’s Visit to Bedford ~ All images, OC Jon O’Connor (c) 2022, all rights reserved ~ Click to view each at full size
Honoring the Fallen