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Arrows Participate in 2024 Needham Memorial Day Ceremony

Arrows Participate in 2024 Needham Memorial Day Ceremony

At the Needham Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2024, Devin Maguire '25 gave a wonderful speech in honor of those who have bravely served our country, especially our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom. Ben Goffredo '24 was once again invited to sing the National Anthem. A group of fellow Arrows and Assistant Headmaster Michael Nerbonne were also in attendance.

Maguire's Memorial Day speech can be read below:

Good morning, 

My name is Devin Maguire. I am a junior at Saint Sebastian’s, and I am currently committed to West Point as a student athlete. I am honored to be here and wanted to share a few words about what Memorial Day means to me.  

Courage is defined as strength in the face of pain or grief. Today, we do not just express gratitude and honor any group of individuals, rather we honor the brave men and women who, without hesitation, are willing to put their lives at risk for the greater good. No matter what kind of adversity or trouble they take on, they do so with a sense of passion and courage knowing that at any given moment, they are prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. Today we honor the fallen. 

Growing up, I had always absorbed the stories my grandfather told of his time in the Marine Corps. He always spoke so deeply of his relationships with men that had made the noble sacrifice of engaging with enemies on the front lines, stating how they were proud to be giving up their lives to keep people safe. As I got older, I became increasingly captivated by the will and selfless acts of these men and women who offered an insight into what it means to be a courageous person. One man, however, profoundly changed my perspective on life as a whole.

Corporal Patrick D. Tillman played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998-2001. In early 2001, he had just signed a very lucrative contract and was destined for fame and fortune as a star football player. Following the attacks on 9/11, Tillman decided to give up this life that many dream of as he felt obligated to serve his country. On May 31st, 2002, Tillman enlisted with his brother Kevin. Later that same year, Pat was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion in Fort Lewis, Washington. By 2003, Tillman had completed Ranger School and subsequently was deployed to Afghanistan. On April 22nd, 2004, while driving through a canyon road, Pat Tillman’s team heard gunfire and explosions behind them.  Pat and others heroically ran back to a more advantageous position supporting fellow soldiers being ambushed. Amid the gunfight, Pat Tillman was tragically killed by friendly fire due to the extreme chaos.  

This was the first time I had been introduced to the true definition of courage. A man that had just begun living out his dream to play in the NFL and in time of such heightened violence, Pat Tillman decided to pursue what he knew and believed was right: to put himself in a difficult and uncomfortable situation so the ones he loved could remain in peace. As an athlete and Boston sports fan, I grew up in awe of Tom Brady, Gronk and David Ortiz. All great athletes who gave us plenty of joy over the years, but they are not my heroes. Pat Tillman and the countless other men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, these are my heroes. 

At West Point, you often hear the phrase “The Long Gray Line” referenced by all graduates of the academy. It reflects the gray cadet uniforms and the young individuals who wear it as part of West Point’s tradition. More importantly, the phrase refers to the unique ties which bind every West Point graduate to all the others who have come before, and all those who will come after.  I hope and pray that I will someday be part of the Long Gray Line.  Veterans in all branches who have served our country with great courage and sacrifice are similarly tied together in such a powerful way.  

On this day, we honor the fallen but we do so knowing that we continue to carry on their legacy and live with purpose to honor their bravery and heroism. In a world that has become so vulnerable to weakness, it is important that we honor these men and women and highlight their ultimate sacrifice. I would like to leave you all with a quote from former President Ronald Reagan. “We are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.” No amount of gratitude can ever fill the debt we owe to these heroic figures. Thank you to all of our veterans and God Bless everyone here today and the United States of America.