Memorial Day services were held throughout Northampton County over Memorial Day weekend with residents, veterans and families of service men and women gathered together at churches, cemeteries and monuments to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
The Sons of Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic held 10 services over the holiday weekend across the Northampton area, including at Allen Union Cemetery on the morning of May 29. The group, made up of men who are descendants of Civil War Union soldiers, was accompanied by the Tri-Community Marching Band. The cemetery service was led by Richard Webster, superintendent of the cemetery, and also featured an address from Reverend Patrick Lamb, pastor of the Queenship of Mary Church in Northampton.
“Sadly, too often, we take our freedom for granted,” Pastor Lamb told the assemblage. “None of us gets to where we are in our lives alone.”
He shared the story of Captain Charlie Plumb, a U.S. soldier in Vietnam who was held as a prisoner of war after his fighter jet was shot down. Plumb survived and, years after the war, met the soldier who packed his parachute that day, saving his life.
“Who is packing your parachute?” Pastor Lamb asked the assemblage. “Who has gone on before us to help us get where we are today?”
Memorial Day is a day to feel grateful for those individuals, he continued. Say a prayer for those who are deceased, he said, and send thanks to those still living.
The Sons of Veterans recited the Gettysburg Address before a rifle salute and the playing of Taps by the Tri-Community Band. The band also performed “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies.” The assemblage joined them in song.
2023 marks the 113th year of the Sons of Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. Every Memorial Day since 1911, the group has visited ten cemeteries around Northampton. VFW Post 4714 also played a role in the day’s ceremony by placing flags at the graves of the cemetery’s veterans.
As the service, moving, thought-provoking and patriotic, ended and the assemblage went their separate ways, they carried the day’s meaning with them, ensuring, as Lincoln’s address stated 159 years ago: “that these dead shall not have died in vain.”