Every year the Pawtuxet Rangers congregate near the Broad Street Pawtuxet River bridge and march single file to the Pawtuxet Burial Yard to remember those who have given their life in service of country. Below are the exact words said by Colonel Ronald Barnes, Commanding Officer.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a holiday of remembrance and traditions for soldiers who have died in our nation’s services. There are many legendary stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day as a holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890, all of the northern states were observing Memorial Day. The South refused to acknowledge the holiday, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the Memorial Day Holiday officially changed from just honoring soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring American Soldiers who died fighting in any war. It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May, though several southern states have an additional day for honoring Confederate soldiers who have died.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Most people no longer celebrate the holiday remembering proper flag etiquette or reflecting on the cost of freedom we hold sacred. Some people think that the day is honoring any and all dead and not just those fallen in service to our country. Let our Company of Pawtuxet Rangers at this time and in this sacred place continue our tradition of observance.
Today we are here to honor those that have served our country and given their lives so that we may stand here and still live in freedom. We need to be constantly reminded of our gift of freedom and of those who gave all to make sure future generations continue to know life in a free, democratic society.
Remembering those who have passed is only half of the task that is before us today. We must also carry their love, honor and duty forward to the future generations that will pass. Our children must know who they were, what they did and why they did it. To do anything less, will be a disservice to their sacrifice and their memories.
Those that are gone created a clear pathway for us to continue on — we must never waiver from that path of freedom and democracy. Take their memories, take their dreams and walk forward shouldering the cause of freedom — carry it high and proud, they did and now you must walk forward for them and for our children. Please bow your heads.
Dear Heavenly father,
As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we think how they have followed in the footsteps of your son. Please hold our service men and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.
We also remember the families of our troops, and ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes with your peace, provision and strength to fill their lives.
May the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord’s mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support. AMEN.
O God of Mercy, we beg you now to protect in a special way those who are fighting for us and for the country we love. Bless them and take care of them. If they are tired, give them strength. If they are wounded and suffering, give them comfort. If they are lonely, touch them with your gentle hand and let them know that you are near them. Grant them strength wisdom and help through your power and your limitless love. AMEN.
Almighty god, Father of freedom, Author of the blessings of liberty; we thank you for the great company of Ancient musicians who in their several generations have been instruments in the search for human dignity and messengers in the pursuit of happiness; we commend all who have marched before us into your safe keeping, seeking for ourselves such wisdom and understanding as may strengthen us as citizens of a free society, inspiring in others a like desire by our music and example; we ask for your protection for fifers, drummers and all reenactors in our company and throughout the land and the hope of your divine providence for all. AMEN.
Let us be in the spirit of prayer.
We remember today all those who have come before us and given the greatest gift to our democratic nation — their lives. Their duty, their honor and their lives are precious gifts that must be given to the future of our country and our families.
The duty of our veterans past and present is the fiber of the word freedom and is stronger by our recognition of service and sacrifice. We honor that service and sacrifice today and should carry it forward for our children to honor. Freedom and democracy are the result of all of the most honorable this country as produced. Today we stand to remember the most honorable amongst us and we must continue to carry the burden of their sacrifice, lest we lose sight of what true freedom is.
Today is for remembering – – stand in honor of them, walk in their path of duty, remember the cost, and hold in your heart the cause of freedom.
We remember today, Memorial Day, our Veterans. AMEN.