Manchester ceremony remembers Pfc. Harvey Fowler

Fowler died in 1944 in combat on a Pacific island

By Mark RondeauPosted:   05/30/2016 08:50:25 PM EDT

Boy Scouts and others with the Fowler family headstone in the background.
Boy Scouts and others with the Fowler family headstone in the background. (Mark Rondeau - Bennington Banner)

MANCHESTER — About 60 people came to tree-filled Dellwood Cemetery on Monday to honor those who have given their lives in military service to the nation, including a local man killed on a Pacific island in World War II.

Around 10 a.m. a procession of veterans started marching from near the cemetery's entrance down to the site of the ceremony, a group of local residents following them.

"This is the biggest parade we've had in a long time," one of the veteran participants quipped. The destination was the plot for the Fowler family.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6471 Commander Bruce E. Charbonneau said the ceremony was being held at the grave site of Harvey Klapp Fowler, one of two local men who died in World War II for whom the post was named. Fowler was a private in the 21st regiment of the Third Marine Division.

Don Cherbonneau, post chaplain, offered an opening prayer. "Our heavenly father, in your hands are the living and the dead. We honor and remember our comrades today, who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. May they rest in peace and may your light forever shine upon them," he began. "May all citizens of our nation remember on this day the large cost of freedom that is the giving of one's life for our country."

Fowler was a 1935 graduate of Burr and Burton. On July 22, 1944, he was killed in action in the U.S. invasion of Guam to take it back from the Japanese. He was 28 when he died.

"Harvey Fowler was a machine gunner, serving on the front lines when a shell landed nearby. He went down, unconscious and without regaining consciousness. He passed away painlessly and peacefully a few moments later," Charbonneau said.

His platoon commander wrote Fowler's parents in a condolence letter that said "we will always remember the little fellow with a big heart and a ready grin. The greatest compliment we as Marines can pay to our own: 'Mr. Fowler, he was a good Marine.'"

Quoting Robert E. Lee, Charbonneau said, "It is well that war is so terrible, or we would become fond of it.'" He added, "the danger of not remembering the sacrifices made by these men and women, it is that as a nation we may forget the price of freedom is never cheap."

Those present then paused for a moment of silent reflection for the veterans of the past and for the men and women currently serving around the world. "Finally, we ask for their safe return," Charbonneau said.

Post Adjutant Steve Leach read a poem, titled, "Brothers to the End," written by Dale Sizemore a World War II veteran. "And though this poem is written totally in the male gender, never let us forget the women who have served this country in both war and peace," Leach said.

The poem reads in part: "Together we have served, as Brothers, for over 241 years/We have served our country for ever/ We have served in many unheard of places/When called by our Nation in times of Peace and War./Many of us saw war and had to face the terror of it all/We felt the stinging cold of fear together/We cried, pained and prayed together/We comforted each other as Brothers."

The headstone of of Harvey Klapp Fowler, a Marine killed in 1944 in the invasion of Guam.
The headstone of of Harvey Klapp Fowler, a Marine killed in 1944 in the invasion of Guam. (Mark Rondeau - Bennington Banner)

Three riflemen then fired off three volleys, followed by a bugler playing "Taps".

According to VFW Post 6471's website, the other veteran the post is named for is James P. Harned, U.S. Army Air Corps, a 1940 graduate of Burr & Burton, who died on July 1, 1942 from malaria while being held in a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines. He is buried in his family plot in Johnson.

Another Memorial Day Ceremony was held at Factory Point Cemetery at 11 a.m.

Three riflemen fired three volleys at the close of the cemetery.
Three riflemen fired three volleys at the close of the cemetery. (Mark Rondeau - Bennington Banner)

Memorial Day Etiquette, Best Practices On Solemn Day

By Jenn Smith >Brattleboro Reformer

POSTED:   05/25/2016 02:04:50 PM EDT  
Eagle file photo

Not all patriotic holidays are created equal, and Memorial Day is no exception.

Though the weekend leading up to Monday, May 30, is often seen as a festive time to gather with friends and family, and perhaps enjoy an extra day off from work, veterans, active duty military men and women, and their families observe the time as a solemn one, when people gather together to honor and remember the ones they've lost.

"It's a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Bruce E. Charbonneau, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6471 of Manchester Center, Vt.

Charbonneau served in various leadership roles in the United States Marine Corps from 1977 to 1998. He's served everywhere, from being stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to serving multiple tours in Okinawa, Japan. And he has lost some military friends and colleagues to various circumstances along the way.

Each year, he and the same group of dozen or so fellow servicemen get together through the VFW to serve in and attend Memorial Day ceremonies in the region. He will speak 3 p.m. Sunday, during the annual Memorial Day parade and services in the center of Middletown Springs, Vt.

In his presentation, he said he plans to cite Abraham Lincoln's 1864 letter to a Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who, he was told, was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. In it, Lincoln wrote: "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine, which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save."

Though historians later discovered that only two sons died of war-related causes, many believe it captures a universal sentiment of war loss.

And it was because of the Civil War that General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed on May 5, 1868: "The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."

What Gen. Logan then called Decoration Day, evolved into what most people now call Memorial Day in the U.S. Red poppies have become a well-recognized symbol of remembrance.

Said Charbonneau of the process of losing and mourning a fallen comrade, "It's difficult to talk about, but it is a part of wearing the uniform and serving your country."

So what are the most appropriate and respectful ways to observe Memorial Day?

Both Charbonneau and James H. "Jim" Clark, director of Veteran Services in Pittsfield, Mass., said that taking the time to attend a Memorial Day ceremony, parade or service, is one good way to show respect to the families and loved ones of fallen soldiers.

Says Clark, "As far as what one would say to a veteran on Memorial Day, I would much prefer someone to say "I am sorry for your loss," for most of us have known someone who sacrificed their all, than to have someone say "Happy Memorial Day" or "Thank you for your service." There are other days set aside each year for greetings such as those."

It's encouraged that people follow proper flag etiquette, from how the flag is raised and lowered and how it's displayed. It's tradition to keep the flag colors, stars and stripes in flag form, and not alter it for things like apparel, paper plates and other forms of decoration.

Both Clark and Charbonneau also said it's important to continue to support families and veterans who have lost a military service person and may be struggling emotionally, socio-economically or in other ways.

"We try very hard at the VFW to take care of veterans and their families. The VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has bereavement clinics and all kinds of assistance. The VA is really doing great things now," said Charbonneau.

Said Clark, "We cannot forget that for each of these fallen soldiers, there remains behind a family a mother, a father, sister or brother, a spouse, and children, who will never see their loved one again. As we strive to forever remember our fallen heroes, we cannot forget that their families need our support and understanding even years after their loved one gave his or her all. Their battle hasn't ended either do not forget to tell them that you are sorry for their loss, as well."