At the Needham Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 29, 2023, Jack McHugh '24 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 after delivering a beautiful performance at the Veteran's Day Ceremony in the fall. A group of fellow Arrows and Assistant Headmaster Michael Nerbonne were also in attendance.
McHugh's Memorial Day speech can be read below:
The Freedom and Dignity of the individual has always been inextricably linked to the sacrifice of other people. That freedom that we enjoy everyday proceeds from the sacrifice of Men and Women who acknowledge that there exists something greater than themselves. These Men and Women feel an obligation to us and our liberties as individuals without having ever known us. They know that there is great risk in this sacrifice, yet they have never been unwilling to take that risk. They do not stall nor hesitate when faced with danger or adversity, but rather readily make personal sacrifices so that we may live comfortably and freely.
In the bible, John 15:13 describes sacrifice as this: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Now whether you are religious or not, this verse holds truths and power that is present in every service member fallen or not. But to give this verse some meaning and life I will share with you all an inspiration of mine.
My Grandfather was a marine. Though he was never deployed, being in the military was his most proud accomplishment and that sparked a great interest in me. When I was younger, I saw the humility and sense of service with which he carried himself and I still see it to this day. For the longest time it has made me want to pursue a similar path to his. He is the reason why it is my desire to serve others, and my desire to attend a military academy. Along with my grandfather, I have other personal heroes, and I will share an anecdote about one of them who is a great American.
Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy graduated from Penn State with numerous opportunities to attend various law schools around the country. However, fueled by an innate sense of duty to his country, Murphy enlisted in the Navy and eventually graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition Seal Training two months after the attacks on 9/11. With a strengthened resolve, Murphy was sent to Afghanistan in April of 2005. On June 27th, he and a team of three other SEALs were sent on Operation Redwing. What was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission quickly turned into a gunfight with Taliban militia forces. Outnumbered by a factor of about 100, Murphy and his comrades were in great danger and Murphy saw that he had to do something. Mid gunfight, Murphy scaled the rocky terrain to the highest point on the Mountain he could find. Risking certain death, he took out his radio and called for support. At the end of his call, he thanked the person on the other end and hung up. Along with two other SEALS, he died up on that Mountain; But not for nothing. He lay down his life for his friends, the ultimate sacrifice. Michael Murphy’s sacrifice serves as a symbol of all fallen soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice, all who passed with great dignity and never in vain.
Now, the love that emanates from not only Murphy, but all service members, extends to every corner of our country, as it knows no limits or bounds. But today is the day that we can try to repay those who made the ultimate sacrifice and give back some of the love that we will never be able to truly repay. We can only hope to give back a small portion of what was taken from them. The best way to honor them is to carry on their legacy. Their legacy was their refusal to be a bystander in a world where it is easy to be one. Their refusal to follow their own self-interest when they know a great duty calls and awaits them evinces their heroism and sacrifice.
Words cannot and will never be able to describe the immeasurable debt that our country owes to every soldier past and present. We can only hope that by following in their footsteps we will begin to do them justice; because to follow them is to honor them. Thank you to all of our veterans.