Peabody turned out Monday to honor its own fallen soldiers along with all service men and women across the nation who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who joined the ceremonies in Peabody with his wife Gail, offered brief remarks to the audience gathered outside .
"It's not possible to overstate the debt we owe to [veterans]," Brown said, calling the sacrifices American soldiers have made throughout history (especially when soldiers have given their lives in the line of duty) "amazing acts of selflessness."
He said the inalienable rights and freedoms citizens enjoy in the United States only came to be because of those who served and died for them, and lauded the community for showing great support and respect for its veterans, living and dead.
"Make no mistake, we do live in the greatest country in the world," Brown said.
The other speakers for the service sounded similar refrains.
Congressman John Tierney said it's important to remember those who died, fighting for liberty and justice, and to serve the living when they return from duty and the families left behind -- to ensure they are provided education, jobs, medical care and housing to reintegrate into society.
"One way to commemorate the people who served is to make sure veterans' needs do not go for want," said Tierney.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt, placing himself among generations of "beneficiaries" of American soldiers' sacrifices and service, said the opportunities available to citizens today are thanks to those who served.
He said he struggled coming up with a fitting speech for his first Memorial Day as Peabody's mayor.
"What I can say is 'thank you' for your strength...for your patriotism...for your generosity," Bettencourt said. "We will never forget it."
State Rep. Ted Speliotis said the "pomp and circumstance" of Memorial Day is important to teaching younger generations their history as Americans, and what those liberties cost.
He noted a time may come when those citizens do not know a family member, friend or colleague who served in combat and lose the personal connection with the country's veterans.
"We celebrate, but we pray for those who did not come home," Speliotis said.
Local veteran Frank Silva, of the , stepped back in time to share a story from Jan. 14, 1969 by late comedian Richard "Red" Skelton."
Skelton, in this particular skit, told a story to his audience of a former teacher of his in seventh grade who taught him and his classmates what the words of the Pledge of Allegiance really mean.
You can find the video of that performance on the Red Skelton Show here on YouTube.
Silva, reciting part of the skit Monday, said he believes many people simply say the pledge on autopilot without truly comprehending what it is they're saying. On the other hand, he pointed out, veterans who gave their oath to serve in the armed forces knew just what they were signing up for.
"Understand that the cost of freedom is not free," he said.
Peabody Veterans Council Treasurer Peter Bogdan, who gave the invocation and concluded the ceremony, asked all those gathered to "remember deceased soldiers every day of our lives in some small way."