Attending the 34th annual Essex Memorial Day Parade Saturday, May 25, Gov. Phil Scott delivered the following address for Memorial Day.
In the early summer of 1944, the world had been at war for nearly six years. Free nations were occupied by enemy armies, democracies had fallen, and war was spreading in nearly every direction.
On the morning of June 6, the Atlantic Alliance – led by our first army along with British and Canadian forces – prepared to engage Nazi Germany on the shores of Northern France.
I often wonder if those soldiers, those young men, had any idea how much was at stake that day. I wonder if they felt the weight of what rested on their shoulders or if they had any concept of how that day would help end the war in less than a year – end genocide, liberate millions from oppression, and bring peace to Europe that continues to this day.
What happened on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago next month, and those who sacrificed their lives, must never be forgotten.
Like Yorktown, Gettysburg and so many others, the D-Day invasion represents a pivotal moment in history when free people stood and fought against oppression, and died to defend freedom, liberty and equality.
In the 243 years since the Revolution, nearly every generation in America has stepped up to serve its cause. In Vermont, we’ve shouldered more than our share of the sacrifice. Answering our nation’s call each and every time freedom has been threatened at home and around the world.
Vermonters like Harold Bergeron from right here in Essex, who served in the 66th Infantry Division. Harold was Vermont’s oldest living veteran when he passed away earlier this year at 104. His story is interesting and typifies what it means to be a member of “The Greatest Generation.”
I know today we’re joined by the family members of those who have given their lives in defense of our nation. On behalf of all Vermonters, I want to thank you for your sacrifice.
As the son of a disabled WWII vet who left this world when I was 11 due to injuries he sustained in the days after D-Day, I feel your pain, as well as your pride.
Serving your country is an honor but giving your life to protect our freedoms is honorable to the highest degree. I want you all to know we will never forget those who sacrificed so much. We live in freedom thanks to them, and it’s important that we don’t forget how they lived, as well as how they died, and as more than just names and dates engraved on granite memorials.
President Coolidge said, “The place which these heroic figures hold in history is forevermore secure. They did not hesitate, they did not yield, they met their duty squarely. For its fulfillment they were prepared to give their fortunes and their lives. It ought never to be forgotten that it was out of this spirit, supported by these sacrifices, that our country was established…”
So, today after a long, cold winter, let us mark the first signs of summer by thanking all the heroes who never came home and those heroes yet to come.
We can never do enough to honor you. But saying “thank you” is a perfect place to start.
Written by Gov. Phil Scott for Memorial Day 2019.