‘Now is the time to remember’: Athol salutes the fallen on Memorial Day 

  • Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski speaking during Memorial Day ceremonies at Athol Veterans Park. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • The Athol High School Marching Band performing at Memorial Day ceremonies at Silver Lake Cemetery. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • Veterans color guard and firing squad standing at attention during Memorial Day ceremonies at Silver Lake Cemetery. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • Athol Police Sergeant Jarret Mousseau, Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera, and Athol Fire captains Jeff Parker and Eric Jack during the invocation at Memorial Day ceremonies at Athol Veterans Park. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • The Athol High School Marching Band performs the national anthem during Memorial Day ceremonies at Silver Lake Cemetery. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • American Legion Auxiliary member RaeAnne Dodge lays a wreath at the monument at Silver Lake Cemetery. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

  • PHOTO BY GREG VINEThe American Legion Color Guard (left) and Firing Squad at Monday’s Memorial Day ceremonies at Silver Lake Cemetery.   PHOTO BY GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 5/30/2022 3:08:14 PM
Modified: 5/30/2022 3:08:16 PM

ATHOL — Dozens of residents, municipal leaders, and public safety officials joined representatives of several area veterans’ groups Monday to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives first in the creation of, and then in the defense of, the United States of America. Brief ceremonies were held under mostly sunny skies at Vietnam Veterans of America Park on Starrett Avenue, Phillips Park across from the Uptown Common, and VFW Park near the YMCA.

More extensive ceremonies then took place at Silver Lake Cemetery and finally at Athol Veterans Park at the corner of Main and Exchange Streets.

Addressing the crowd gathered at the final location, guest speaker and Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski told those gathered that he was hesitant to offer comments despite being invited to do so.

“When I got the call to speak,” he explained, “I was hesitant at first. I was honored, but hesitant. Why was I hesitant? Well, I have not served in the military. I’m a civilian. What I’ve done is I’ve benefited from those of you — those of you who have served who are here today, and those who we’re honoring today who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“As I thought about it, most of us are civilians. There are 12,000 people in Athol and the folks here, you’ve served all of us. And those who made sacrifices did so so that we can enjoy the freedoms that are unique to the United States of America.”

Suhoski then brought home the extent of that sacrifice.

“About 1.3 million people lost their lives — if we go back to the Revolutionary War through the world wars, through the Gulf War, and even into the War on Terror in more recent years —  they paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

That, he continued, is the whole purpose of recognizing Memorial Day.

“A lot of times, all of us — I do it — Memorial Day, we’re going to celebrate with a barbecue, with a few family. It’s an extra day off. But why is that? Because of what we’re doing this morning, what you did at the other war monuments, at Silver Lake Cemetery and here at Veterans Park.

“The celebrations that come later with family, that’s fine,” he said. “But now is the time to remember and to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy our freedoms here.”

Suhoski then asked, “What can we do? What can civilians like me do? How do we share in this? Well, the way we can help is by remembering, by honoring those who served, be telling our children, by teaching them our history.”

He then pointed to Ukraine, where people in that country are fighting to hold onto their freedoms in the face of an unjustified invasion by Russia. 

“They’re fighting for their freedom now,” said Suhoski. “We fought for our freedom 230 years ago. We fought to keep this country unified 160 years ago.”

He noted that both of his grandfathers served in World War II, one seeing action in the European Theatre, the other in the Pacific. An uncle of his was lost in Vietnam.

“I was fortunate,” he continued. “I was fortunate; I escaped going to war. I had a good upbringing. And that’s why I’m here. I want to thank everybody here who is in the service now, those who have served our nation, and I want to pay my respect, and I was us to remember those who made that ultimate sacrifice.”

During ceremonies at Silver Lake Cemetery, the national anthem was played by the Athol High School Marching Band.

Brian Dodge, incoming commander of American Legion Post 102, read General Logan’s Memorial Day Order, which served as the basis for the ultimate creation of Memorial Day. On May 5, 1868, Logan issued General Order 11, calling for a National Day of Remembrance honoring those who died in the Civil War.

The order began: “The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”

The opening prayer and invocation at both Silver Lake Cemetery and Athol Veterans Park were offered by Brian Lagimoniere, Deacon of the North Quabbin Catholic Community. Wreaths were placed at all monuments by members of the American Legion Auxiliary and gun salutes were fired by the American Legion Firing Squad.


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