Town of Sherman, CT Memorial Day Parade 2022, Keynote Speech. It is an honor to be standing before you today, from the gazebo my father helped construct 18 years ago. Never would I have thought in all my years of walking in the parade as a girl scout, with the softball team, or riding on the floats for my mum’s dance studio, that my life’s journey would bring me back here as a speaker.
Here at the gazebo which serves as a memorial to World War II servicemen from Sherman. Last year I had an opportunity to visit the landing sites at Normandy. For such a beautiful place, a somber haze still flows along the shores, everlasting reminders of the pain, suffering, and sacrifices that were made.
Most of my family wouldn’t have even immigrated to the US for at least another decade.
In this day and age, too many people have forgotten how lucky we are as Americans to have our freedoms, and what countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen have sacrificed their lives for to protect. Most Americans have never experienced war first hand. Safety is so vital to a free society, and the importance so quickly forgot.
And that is why we are gathered here today, to remember those who died in military service. Small towns absorb the toll of war. Growing up here, we have all lost a friend, family member, or loved one, who made the ultimate sacrifice. Only 15% of those who serve come from a city, leaving the other 85% to small and rural towns. Currently there’s about 200 Veterans living here in Sherman.
Why is that? What makes small towns more patriotic?
When I was in high school, my parents said they would only help pay for college if I stayed in Connecticut, so I did what any rational teenager would do, and joined the Coast Guard and moved to Alaska, but aside from getting away, it was much more than that, it was to give back in ways other might not have been able to.
When Facebook first became a thing, there was a group for Shermanites, someone posted a “you know you’re from Sherman” with well over 100 lines.
Number 27) your entire town shuts down for the Memorial Day Parade
Number 3) you know everyone in town
Number 22) your life’s dream is to get away as far as possible, but you know if you end up living here your entire life, deep down you won’t mind.
The past few years have been rough for me. I have always been a Shermanite, was only a Sherman knight until 1st grade, really Saber but (Number 29, you know the difference), but after I was discharged from the Coast Guard, I guess you could have called me a Sherman night N-I-G-H-T because I was living between Rhode Island attending university, and here, to help take care of my mother.
For nearly a decade she battled Neurological Lyme’s Disease. The easiest way to describe her symptoms was by saying she had severe dementia but it was much worse than words could describe.
I was constantly going back and forth, helping my father, as she needed full time care. After a treacherous fight, she succumbed to the disease, July 2019.
2020 wasn’t any easier, continuing commuting, to take care of my father, bringing him to chemo as he battled cancer. Broken heart syndrome from my mother’s passing was histipping point. We lost him, November that year.
My father was the youngest of 7. He wasn’t allowed to serve at the time legally having all of his brothers actively serving. It always devastated him. He was so proud, when I chose to serve, when he could not. My eldest uncle told me after my father passed, that my dad did try to enlist, and when he found out, he held him up by his throat, pinned him against the wall and made my father promise he wouldn’t.
My Uncle Donald passed away last year, retired Army Staff Sergeant, purple heart recipient. We lost my Uncle Michael 15 years ago, and my Uncle Vianney passed away this year, both Navy Veterans.
May they rest in Peace.
I forgot to mention Number 23) You are related to another family in town
My Uncle Richard, Army, and his son David, Navy Seal. My Uncle Marcel and his son in New Milford both Army, and my Uncle Robert, Navy.
On my mum’s side, the history of serving dates back to World War I, my Great Grandfather, Army. I was the only Coastie, with a couple other Uncles Air Force, and my cousin Megan, Marines, so we got all the branches covered.
So why did I move back to Sherman full time? Myself, a boat captain and ocean explorer, when we are hours from the ocean. Maybe it’s just that small town spirit. So for those who are new moving to Sherman, we welcome you. Get to know us, and you will learn why so many of us choose to serve and make that sacrifice. We are willing to put our lives on the line to protect our family, our friends, our neighbors, and more importantly our freedoms. We need to start coming back together not only as a community, but as a country, to remember and be grateful for the liberties that we the people have, and for those who have made those sacrifices for us. Equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal outcome, nor should it. It places responsibility on the individual, and you have the right to make those decisions. You need to want it enough to fight for it.
May God Bless you and God Bless America, Thank you.