For a long time, Joe Gibaldi, of the U.S. Navy, would give a host of answers when asked about his favorite song. Some days it was by the Beatles, others it was by the Eagles or a classic from Frank Sinatra.
But, after recently visiting the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and seeing the massive tattered flag that endured the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, Gibaldi knows his favorite song is the national anthem -- the Star-Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key during that same battle.
Gibaldi, the speaker at the Memorial Day ceremony in the Spring Grove Cemetery Monday, said he gets a lump in his throat each time he listens to the patriotic ballad.
"For many of our fallen heroes, there many not have been someone else to do that mission or take that action at that moment so they did it and gave their last full measure of devotion," Gibaldi said. "We owe them our gratitude for giving their life in an effort to protect ours and to protect the freedom their family and friends are fortunate enough to enjoy."
It was deja vu for parade-goers and marchers, as this year's weather was identical to last year's: Wild and wicked rains that dissipated to make way for the clear blue skies and warm temperatures.
Prior to the ceremony in the cemetery, the Memorial Day parade drew onlookers who lined the Post Road to wave and cheer for those who followed the route from the Goodwives River shopping plaza to the end.
Military personnel and town emergency responders and organizations proudly walked down the road.
During his address to the roughly 150 people who gathered for the ceremony, Gibaldi quoted the nation's second president, John Adams: "There are only two creatures of value on the face of the Earth: those with the commitment and those who require the commitment of others."
"The vast majority of our nation falls into that second category: relying on the commitment of others so we thank those people that made the commitment for so many of us," Gibaldi said. "So looking forward we should honor anyone who makes the choice to serve and again makes that commitment to serve for us. If any man or woman decides to join the military after high school rather than go to college, I would ask that we congratulate them warmly and thank them for choosing that path. They have chosen to take on that commitment for the majority of us who need that commitment."
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