USARIEM Honors Massachusetts Fallen
The 2nd annual Battle Road Memorial March took place with Soldiers and guests gathering on the green of Lexington Common Oct. 15. Organized by the 3rd Legal Support Organization Reserve Unit from Boston, the March honored Massachusetts Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine participated in great number, with ranks ranging from private to colonel. Families joined in the march as well.
The ceremony started with a Navy color guard posting Colors, while both USARIEM and the 3rd LSO stood at attention. Guest speakers at the event included U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, Alma Hart, mother of a fallen Soldier, Coleman Nee, Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Massachusetts, and Col. Lee Cummings, commander of the 3rd LSO. USARIEM's Col. Gaston Bathalon was recognized for his service, while his Soldiers proudly applauded.
After each guest was acknowledged with a traditional Minuteman statue, the Rev. Demetri Costarkis and Capt. John Fitzpatrick read more than 140 names from the list of Massachusetts Soldiers fallen during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The formation stood in somber silence while the list of names was announced.
While observers were absorbing the emotions of this reflective occasion, Soldiers were soon on the move starting their march. Each was handed a brick marked with a fallen's name, and these were quickly placed into the Soldiers' rucksacks as they moved forward. Some took as many as four bricks until none were left.
The march took the Soldiers through the Lexington streets and along the historical Minuteman Trail to the town of Concord, where they turned and headed back to Lexington Common. While this was a challenging route for many, the Soldiers seemed to gain more energy and enthusiasm as they pressed on. Everyone showed a great sense of pride, and afterwards the mood was relaxed with smiles all around. Although filled with mixed emotions, the day's events prompted all to remember and honor those individuals who gave their lives to ensure the freedom of many.