It is Memorial Day, at 7.30 a.m., and at White Memorial Cemetery on Cuba Road elderly and middle-aged members of American Legion Post #158 and of VFW Post #7706 gather at the cemetery gates and march in carrying their colors and the Stars and Stripes. Some have resurrected their uniforms from their service. Now, the oldest might be from the Korean War. A chaplain will offer some prayers, and then a flag is placed on the grave of a veteran. Three of the company will step forward and fire a 3-gun salute. An especially poignant moment is provided by two buglers, frequently students from Barrington High School, echoing each other playing “Taps”. After this there are a few social moments with the onlookers, a few of whom have relatives in the cemetery, and then these veterans will head for their cars and move on to their next destination.
This ceremony will be repeated at St. Paul’s Cemetery on East Main Street. Then, a long drive out to Algonquin Road and the Smith Cemetery, hidden back from the road, high on a hill overlooking the Forest Preserve, and founded by pioneers whose family members served in the Civil War. Barrington Center Cemetery is next where a historic marker records the names of area men who enlisted in the Civil War.
Returning to the Village, these proud and hardy veterans gather by the Memorial at Main and Cook Streets, and prepare for the Parade which will take them across town and south on Dundee Avenue to Evergreen Cemetery, where the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, first erected in 1906 by the Woman’s Relief Corps #85 (“In Memory of our Civil War Heroes”) stands proudly on the hillside. Over a century later it carries significant commemorative recognition of Barrington’s Veterans in all services and wars.
In 2019, large crowds lined the avenue to the Memorial to join in the remembrances for the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings in World War II. The occasion was graced by the presence of two World War II veterans: Burnell Wollar and Richard Duchossois. Those who came home never forget their comrades who were lost. Their memories of “The World on Fire” around them may never fully be told, but their fellow soldiers, sailors, and airmen live in their hearts, and even in old age they undertake this Memorial Day pilgrimage.
In other countries that were Allies in the wars of the 20th century, Memorial Day is celebrated as Remembrance Day, on the Sunday closest to November 11, the Armistice Day of World War I. That is when the Royal British Legion sells their poppies. There is a verse that in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand has come to be a traditional part of Remembrance Day commemorations. It is from a poem, by Laurence Binyon, first published in 1914. The poem was titled “For the Fallen”.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
And so, in gratitude, shall it ever be.
Barbara L. Benson grew up in Kent, England, and later moved to New York. She settled in Barrington and has walked with our history ever since she first arrived here in 1980.
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