A somber group gathered on the banks of the Schroon this Memorial Day to honor the nation’s service men and women lost at sea. The naval ceremony, lead by Warrensburg American Legion Post 446 Adjutant and Commander Gene Pierce, was a tribute to the thousands who gave their lives for their country with no grave to mark save longitude and latitude coordinates recorded in a captain’s log. The early-morning ceremony, held at the Frederick H. Flynn Memorial Park on River Street, preceded the town parade and the Memorial Day tribute at the Warrensburg Cemetery.
According to Pierce, the American Legion decided a few years ago to conduct this naval ceremony because travel by ocean was once the only way to send our troops to distant lands. Thousands have died on ships and in submarines over the course of several wars. Pierce asked those in attendance to imagine the heartache of families that received the telegram telling them that a son or daughter is missing at sea.
“Their sons and daughters, they went off to war, they went off to the Merchant Marine, they were doing good things. All of a sudden, they (the family) receive a telegram —they didn’t get the knock on the door then, they got a telegram — saying ‘Your son and daughter are missing and presumed dead, further information to follow,’ and yet, 20—30 years later, there was no information to follow.” — Commander Gene Pierce, Warrensburg American Legion Post 446
Pierce also commented on the reason for Memorial Day, saying it seems to have become an event for picnics and drinking. He noted a recent column in the local daily newspaper that quoted local residents whose plans for the day included these social activities. None mentioned honoring the country’s war dead. Pierce reminded his audience that Memorial Day is a solemn occasion dedicated to paying tribute to the “…28 men from Warrensburg, Thurman and Athol who went to war and never came back.”
Following Pierce’s address, those in attendance walked to the water’s edge and tossed sprays of white daisies onto the slow-moving Schroon. The Legion Guard fired a salute, and a lone bugler blew Taps as the flowers floated downstream. Following the ceremony, the Legionnaires Joined the VFW Post 4821, the Warrensburg Junior/Senior High School Band, the Warrensburg and Thurman Volunteer Fire Companies and other civic organizations in a parade up Elm and Hudson Streets to the Warrensburg Cemetery where further ceremonies took place.