Memorial Day affirmation: ‘We remember them’: Irish general with Dorchester ties offers remarks at Cedar Grove

Irish Brigadier General Peter O’Halloran: Ed Forry photoIrish Brigadier General Peter O’Halloran: Ed Forry photo
Brigadier General Peter O’Halloran of the Irish Army offered the keynote remarks at Dorchester’s annual observation of Memorial Day on May 29. The general,whose brother Damien is a well-known bartender at the Eire Pub, has served 10 tours of duty over his four decades in uniform, including stints attached to the United Nations and NATO forces. His remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

“Some short weeks ago I stood at a memorial site in South Lebanon and paid tribute to my fallen Irish colleagues who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of International piece. As the honor guard paid tribute many of us shed tears for our friends and colleagues.

“Today, as I marched to Cedar Grove Cemetery. I had that same feeling of loss I had those short few weeks ago in South Lebanon.

“I commend you for the honor you have been paying to your fallen heroes since your first tribute here in 1868. I commend the people of Dorchester for the honor you bestow on the men and women who served their nation and made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Marching here, I pondered how your nation every spring celebrates this holiday called Memorial Day, which, I am told by my brother Damien, traditionally marks the beginning of summer. I know it is a day for celebration, sharing family time, and offering parades for the entertainment of adults and children.

“But as a soldier I know not all Americans can find it their hearts to celebrate - some children may not have a parent’s hand to hold as the parade passes by. Fathers, mothers, siblings, partners are heartbroken for loved ones who died for their country and the values they held dear.

“I truly empathize with the families of the fallen heroes and I want to thank you for your heroes who sacrificed so as we can enjoy freedom and democracy. You have a right to be proud of them. We are.

“Soldiers of the USA and its allies wear the uniform of service so others do not have to. We are the insurance policy for freedom, democracy, sovereignty, and to ensure the rest of our societies enjoy the land in which we live. Every single day there is a soldier somewhere far away from home protecting our sacred values.

“Soldiers of the USA and its allies share a set of values that makes each soldier stand out as a special human being - values like respect, integrity, loyalty, moral courage, physical courage, and selflessness.

Soldiers do not just agree with these values, they enact them every day, and it is these values which make them special and lead them when required to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“To quote Senator [Robert] Dole: ‘We do not pay tribute to war; rather, a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes out of farm boys and city boys, that inspires Americans of every generation to lay down their lives for people they will never meet.’

“Please take a moment of reflection as you view their graves remembering the fallen for their service to us all. We owe them our freedom and democracy.

“I conclude with a tribute of remembrance:
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and the warmth of summer
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now part of us
We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength
We remember them.
When we are lost and sick of heart
We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share
We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make
We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs.
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us as we remember them.”