SHREWSBURY – Residents lined the streets around Shrewsbury’s Town Center on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day.
The parade, which started at Town Hall, marked a return of in-person Memorial Day observances after events were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Among the speakers at this year’s event was Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who noted that the attendees were gathering for more than just a tradition.
“It’s a responsibility that we have as Americans to honor, to express gratitude and appreciation for what our country is all about and for those who have served, who serve and who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Polito said.
Making the choice to attend the Memorial Day program was the “most important way that we can express our appreciation to those who have served,” she continued.
Polito reflects on freedom
For this particular Memorial Day, Polito said everyone should “pause and think” about what freedom meant following two years of restrictions “in order to preserve the public health” and daily activities that had to be cut.
She referenced the current war in Ukraine, noting Ukrainians “fighting for their freedom against an evil tyrant.”
“We can’t help but come to this space in our hometown, on our Town Common and say how grateful we are to have the honor and ability to live in this great community, in this great Commonwealth and in this great country,” Polito said.
She continued that freedom isn’t free, emphasizing that every flag planted in nearby cemeteries represents a person who has sacrificed.
Mother of fallen soldier delivers Memorial Day address
One of those nearby flags specifically represents Army Pfc. Brian Moquin, who is buried in Hope Cemetery in Worcester.
“Gold Star family is a title that nobody wants to bear,” said his mother Tracy Racine, who gave the Memorial Day address in Shrewsbury this year.
Moquin grew up in Shrewsbury and lived in town for most of his life. He was killed in 2006 in Afghanistan after his helicopter crashed while on a mission.
His memorial square is located at the corner of Oak Street and Maple Avenue.
“After high school, Brian decided that he wanted to do something to make a difference. He decided to join the United States Army,” Racine said.
He went from being a “fun loving,” active kid who sought adventure to a brave young man who was “courageous enough to go into the war zone,” Racine said.
“Brian loved his country, the brotherhood within the army and the freedom for which he fought,” Racine continued. “He was a brave, courageous soldier and I miss him more than words can say.”
She noted that people often say, “Happy Memorial Day.” For herself and many other families, though, she noted that every day is Memorial Day.
“My hope is that communities take a moment to reflect about the magnitude of this nationally-recognized holiday and to not forget the many sacrifices that have been made by our fallen and their families,” Racine said. “Maybe instead of saying, ‘Happy Memorial Day,’ you can say, ‘Enjoy your weekend and we will try our best to remember.’”