Memorial Day was the final rest day on our walk and we used it to take in observances of the holiday in Herkimer, N.Y.
Monuments we’ve seen during our Erie Canal walk remind us that this is an older section of the country than what we see in Texas. We’ve seen local memorials listing natives who died in wars dating all the way back to the American Revolution.
In fact, the most notable member of the Herkimer family after whom the village, town and county were named was Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, who died from battle wounds in 1777 after taking part in the nearby Battle of Oriskany during the Revolutionary War.
That item was not mentioned during today’s ceremony in a small tree-shaded park. We guessed it’s because locals all know the story. Regardless, conversation was limited to wars that were remembered by some of the audience.
The highlight was a few words offered by Anne-Marie Hansel, age 96, who served as a WAVE during World War II.
The first of what she said I didn’t pick up on, but she spoke loudly and clearly with her parting remarks: “No more wars. We’ve got to stop this. Use your brains.”
Bless her, she’s right.
That does not reduce by an iota the respect and honor we hold for those in military service, particularly those who made the greatest sacrifice. But it’s a bold message for those who make the decisions to fight unnecessary wars: “No more wars. We’ve got to stop this. Use your brains.”