To the Editor:
As a citizen of New Harbor, I happened to be on the parade grounds of Fort William Henry at Colonial Pemaquid for the season’s opening event, a sprightly Pipes and Drums Concert, which the crowd of over 300 and I enjoyed immensely. However, it was the remarks of Don Loprieno, vice president of The Friends of Colonial Pemaquid and chair of the living history committee that struck a chord I shall remember for many Memorial Days to come. I write to share them with you:
Memorial Day Weekend is a time of family gatherings, parades, and festive occasions, but it is also a solemn reminder of sacrifice and loss. On the grounds of Colonial Pemaquid, much of the 17th and 18th century was marked by conflict between Europeans and Native Americans, with hardship, deprivation, and loss of life on both sides.
King Philip’s War, for instance, struck this area in 1676, and in 1689, Fort Charles, a wooden structure, was burned to the ground with great loss of life. In 1696, Fort William Henry, partially reproduced here in the early 20th century, was captured and destroyed; and its successor, Fort Frederick, was attacked several times. This was the frontier after all, and like all frontiers, life here was difficult and dangerous.
Of course, wars have occurred throughout history, and have been fought for different reasons, but one fact should never be forgotten. Regardless of the military or political rationale, it is the soldier who is always placed in harm’s way – therefore one should never confuse the warrior with the war.
So here today, amidst this peaceful setting by the waters of John’s Bay, let us not forget the reason for this holiday. Let us take a moment to pay tribute to those countless men and women who served in all wars, and to their families who have borne and still bear the burden of sacrifice.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “We may occasionally be tempted to ask ourselves what we gained by the enormous sacrifices made by those to whom this memorial weekend is dedicated, but that was never the issue with those who marched away. No question of advantage presented itself to their minds. They only saw the light shining on the clear path to duty. They only saw their duty to resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations. They never asked the question, ‘What shall we gain?’ They asked only the question, ‘Where lies the right?'”