Memorial Day Message from Executive Director Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond

Memorial Day 2021

Once each year in May we gather at the graves of our fallen heroes or at public ceremonies of remembrance to honor their sacrifice and service. The ceremonies this year will have a bittersweet feel.  We will come together, as we do each year, to honor the warriors whose lives were cut short while safeguarding this nation. But this also marks the first time in over a year that we are able to gather as a community to honor this service and sacrifice. Dr. Greg Fricchione and our good friends at the Benson Henry Institute often remind us on the importance of connectivity as a crucial element for good mental health. We know that when there is a loss or absence of human engagement or attachment, this can lead to suicide. Therefore, coming together as we do celebrate these lives, mourn this loss, and honor the sacrifice, will in turn help strengthen us during these difficult times.

This past week, many members of our Home Base Team joined our incredible partners and friends from the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund to support their annual Memorial Day event on Boston Common. Each year, hundreds of volunteers descend upon the Boston Common to place more than 37,000 flags (depicted above) to represent each of the Massachusetts men and women who have died serving their country as a member of the armed services. This year, Home Base helped to facilitate a number of vaccinated volunteers who spent 10 hours participating in this labor of love. On Thursday, we were joined by the Governor, Lt Governor, Massachusetts Secretary of Veteran Services Cheryl Poppe and Boston Commissioner of Veteran Services Robert Santiago and a number of families of the fallen for a brief ceremony and roll call where every name was read for service members from Massachusetts who were killed on or after September 11th, 2001. We once again came together as a community to support each other.

From the muddy shores of Normandy to the tropical heat of Bataan, the frozen mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, mountains of Afghanistan, and deserts of the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of Americans have sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom to safeguard this nation. Each of these have left a wake of pain and loss with comrades and family members. Because of this, it can be difficult for Veterans to convey their emotional tie to Memorial Day, and for families to be reminded of their loss. Regardless of age, this day brings back a flood of memories for both current and “Old Soldiers.” Some of these memories are fond, most are of lost comrades. Each time I hear Taps played, I momentarily return to the many military funerals I have attended both here in the US and in combat zones. Each time, we recognized the sacrifice of brave young Americans who had given up their hopes, dreams, and tomorrows, so that we can enjoy our today’s.

This Memorial Day offers a glimmer of hope for a return to normalcy after an extended period of isolation and fear associated with the pandemic.  Please take moment and say a quick prayer for our fallen heroes and the families they have left behind and take moment to assess your own wellbeing after this very tough year. As we re-emerge from this extended period of hibernation, Home Base will redouble our efforts to serve our wounded and injured warriors and their Family members, and we remain grateful for your continued support for this noble effort!

VR

JAH