Vt. Honors Veterans in Randolph Ctr.
Dozens of veterans and their families joined Governor Phil Scott at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Tuesday for a traditional observation of Memorial Day that included the playing of taps and an honor guard rifle salute by the Spaulding High School Junior ROTC.
Surrounded by headstones representing more than 5,000 Vermont soldiers, the governor called on all Vermonters to “teach our children about these brave men and women who shaped our history by telling them who they were and what they went through.”
Flanked by representatives from the offices of Peter Welch, Patrick Leahy, and Bernie Sanders, Scott recounted the story of Army Sergeant Jamie Gray, a much-loved resident of East Montpelier who was killed in 2004 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Lieutenant Colonel Don Singer stands at attention during the National Anthem at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Tuesday in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)“I believe it is our duty and our honor to share the stories of fallen soldiers so we can remember how they lived as well as how they died,” said Scott, the son of a disabled WWII veteran who died when the would-be governor was a young boy.
“It is more than just names and dates found on marble and granite markers in cemeteries,” he said, before solemnly reciting the epitaph on Sgt. Gray’s headstone.
“Think of me and all your liberties and recall that some gave all,” read Scott.
The governor concluded his planned remarks with a message of comfort for the families of Vermont’s fallen soldiers, as well as the living veterans present at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“I know that we will continue to tell stories, to thank all the heroes who never came home, the heroes yet to come,” said Scott. “We can never do enough to honor you, but saying thank-you is a perfect way to start.”
“Vermont has a long and proud history of service and sacrifice,” read a letter from Congressman Welch, who was unable to personally attend the ceremony. “[These soldiers] serve as a reminder of what it means to be a patriot, what it means to take up arms in defense of your nation, and what it means to demonstrate incredible courage in the face of terrible adversity,” he wrote.
Global War on Terror
Shortly after the ceremony, the governor laid a red, white, and blue wreath at the site of the Global War on Terror Memorial, accompanied by “Gold Star” families who had lost sons or daughters in the wars that followed the 9/11 attacks.
Joining the governor in the brief process of placing the wreath was Kevin McLaughlin of West Bolton. A Gold Star father, McLaughlin’s son, Scott—remembered fondly for playing beneath the apple trees near his childhood home—was killed in Iraq by a sniper’s bullet on September 22, 2005 at age 29.
His ashes are now spread beneath the apple trees he used to play under and his name is now carved on a low granite stone in Randolph Center.