The city of Buckeye honored American’s fallen in an 11-minute Memorial Day video posted to Facebook on May 25.
Filmed at the city’s community cemetery, the virtual ceremony held because of COVID-19 guidance advising against large gatherings, began with United Buckeye United Firefighters Association Local 4311 honor guard members marching on President Mike Russell’s command and the haunting sound of bagpipes and drums.
After a flag salute, Buckeye Public Works Director Scott Lowe, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, spoke about Memorial Day’s history going back to the Civil War.
“That war, in and of itself, required establishment the country’s first national cemeteries” where springtime tributes were held to honor fallen soldiers, he said. “Did you know that each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time? It’s unclear where exactly this tradition originated.”
As the piper played “America the Beautiful,” Mr. Lowe spoke of the fallen.
“Today is about the ones that did fight to the death so that we could continue to live in peace and freedom. It is our honored dead that we remember on this day, Memorial Day. I am sure that they, our honored dead, would not want to be remembered as its warriors,” he said. “Most would want to be remembered for who they really were. They were sons and daughters, they were fathers and mothers, they were doctors and nursers and lawyers. They were engineers, they were carpenters and plumbers, they were electricians and they were mechanics. They were farmers and ranchers, they were cooks and medics. They were police officers and they were firefighters. They were pastors, and they were priests and they were rabbis. Basically, they were like all of us gathered here today. They were just plain, peace-loving Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, who demonstrated as it says in scripture in the gospel of John in chapter 15, verse 13: ‘Greater love has no greater than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ We honor those today who showed and demonstrated the greatest possible love — dying for our right to live in peace.”
As the camera panned graves adorned with small American flags waving in the breeze and “Taps”played, Mr. Lowe continued.
“So are we really a free nation? Yes we are. We are free because of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have gladly served our nation, both in peace time and in war. But freedom isn’t free. It’s paid for by the blood of those we honor today,” he said. “Every one of these brave soldiers, airmen, Marines, sailors and guardsmen paid the price for your freedom and mine. They can all rest in peace because their honorable death allows us to live in peace. So let us not forget to honor and remember.”
Mr. Lowe called the fallen’s service a sacred calling. “Then I heard the voice of the lord saying, ‘whom shall I send and who will go for us?’” he quoted from Isaiah 6:8, “Those we honor, all with willingness and peace-loving, freedoming-fighting motivation answered, here I am. Send me,” he said. “Thank you.”
After Mr. Lowe’s keynote address, Caleb Elms sang the national anthem, then retired Navy Chief Petty Officer John Busby and his wife, Donna, conducted a POW-MIA bell-ringing ceremony, a small table between them.
“The table set for you is a place of honor. It is set for one. The table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst,” Ms. Busby said. “They’re commonly called POWs or MIAs. We call them brothers or sisters. They are unable to be with us today, so we remember them.”
Pointing to the table, Ms. Busby talked of its significance and the significance of each item placed there.
“The table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his oppressors. Remember,” she said, as her husband rang the bell.
He would ring it 10 more times as Ms. Busby spoke, her voice breaking toward the end.
“The table cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to repond to their country’s call to arms. Remember.” Clang. “The single red rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones our comrades in arms who kept the faith, awaiting their return. Remember.” Clang.
“The red ribbon, tied prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breast of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. Remember.” Clang. “The candle is lit, symbolizing the upward reach of their uncontrovertible spirit. Remember.” Clang.
“A slice of lemon on the bread plate reminds of us of their bitter fate. Remember.” Clang. “There is salt on the bread plate, symbolic of the families as they wait, their tears as they wait. Remember.” Clang.
“The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this day. Remember.” Clang. “The chair. The chair is empty. They are not here. Remember.” Clang.
“Remember, all of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended on their might and their aid, and relied upon them, for surely they have not forsaken you. Remember.” Clang.
“Remember. Remember until the day they all come home. Remember.” Clang.
A recording by Mayor Jackie Meck concluded the video.
“I want to thank the military personnel for what they have done, the sacrifices that they have provided for Americans not only in America, but here in the city of Buckeye. Thank you for the work you’ve done and the sacrifices you’ve made. Today, Memorial Day, we think of you, we love you and thank you for what you’ve done,” he said.
Mr. Meck also thanked members of the committee who put the service together.
“I’m sorry that we cannot all meet together, but the virtual reality that we’re in and the world we’re in today with this pandemic, I thank you for going ahead and trying to make Memorial Day memorable,” he said. “Thank you very much.”
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 760-963-1697. For up-to-date local reporting on all things COVID-19, Independent Newsmedia has created a webpage dedicated to coverage of the novel coronavirus: #AZNEWSMEDIA