'To fallen soldiers let us sing…'
By Liz Premo Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, September 14, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON -- Gray skies with a potential for drizzle made for a solemn canopy overhead as Hampton's American Legion Post #35 conducted their Global War on Terrorism monument dedication on Tuesday evening, the sixth anniversary of 9-11.
Because of the weather, a good portion of the ceremony was moved indoors and upstairs in the Legion Hall. Post #35 members welcomed families, Veterans, several color guards, and guest speakers to the standing-room-only venue.
Scores of onlookers, however, willingly remained outdoors waiting for the unveiling of the granite stone, which has engraved into its polished surface the six new names of New Hampshire's military killed during the current GWOT.
The names of Army Cpl. Nicholas Arvanitis, Lance Cpl. Ryan McCaughn, Army Spc. Matthew Stanley, Army Spc. Toby Olsen, Army Spc. Justin Rollins and Army Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh are forever commemorated on the stone, along with 25 other heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice while bravely serving their country since 9-11-01.
Their sacrifices and those of their fellow fallen were emphasized again and again by the slate of speakers, which included Governor John Lynch, the Honorable Jeb Bradley, State Legion Dept. Commander Charles Lewis, Sgt. Nick Cyr, Maj. Fred Rice, and Post #35 Commander, Ralph Fatello.
The ceremony opened with an invocation by Post #35 Chaplain, John Holman, and the National Anthem sung by Elaine Weatherby. A number of color guards stood at attention for the duration.
"We can never repay the debt we owe to our fallen soldiers," said Gov. Lynch. "The sacrifice and courage of these brave men deserve to be honored for a long time."
Lewis promised the families of the fallen that the Legion and its members "will do what we can to support [you here] at home."
A Marine Corps Veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Cyr shared some of his observations on the battle field, recalling a friend of his — a "mountain of a man" — who lost his life in the Global War on Terror. He commended "the warriors who gave the ultimate sacrifice," remembering those "who lived the good life and fought the good fight."
The indoor ceremony concluded with remarks by Rice, who quoted the words from "Mansions of the Lord," a hymn written for the drama, "We Were Soldiers." The song begins, "To fallen soldiers let us sing, where no rockets fly nor bullets wing. Our broken brothers let us bring to the Mansions of the Lord."
Then, with everyone gathered outside, the monument was unveiled by Post #35's "Keepers of the Stone," John Barvenik and George Masten. A wreath was placed before the monument, a Roll Call of the Deceased was read, and "Taps" was played following a brisk rifle salute.
Tears were wiped away, hugs exchanged and a promise was made by Fatello to the families of the fallen: "We will never forget your loved ones' sacrifices," he said, "nor your own personal sacrifices."