Parades mark Memorial Day observances
VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - People from around the region Monday gathered to honor and mourn those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
In Vergennes, the annual Memorial Day parade attracted hundreds cheering and waving flags. The parade in Vermont’s smallest city dates back to 1945 and is getting ready to celebrate its 75-year diamond jubilee. This year’s theme was “Honoring & Remembering all who Served.”
The guest of honor was retired Vermont National Guard Col. Randall Gates. “This is important for us to remember that there’s a cost to keeping our country free. They made that ultimate cost, so the least we can do is to find a way to have their memory held close and dear,” Gates said.
Organizers say it’s a big parade for the community and many people work together to make it happen. Steve Pecca has been driving his antique tractor in the lineup for 15 years. “A lot of people gave everything to make this country a free country and to keep this country a free country -- a light to the world as a free nation. We have lots of liberties and freedoms and we should protect them,” Pecca said.
Spectators, like Ray Clark of Bristol, say watching the parade is just another way to show their gratitude. “I never was in the military, but my dad was in World War II. It’s important that we remember our lost people,” Clark said.
“In our family, we relate a lot to it. We have a lot of military personnel in our family. It’s just something we support every year,” said Tabatha Rucinski of Winooski.
BATTERY PARK CEREMONY
Burlington area residents honored the fallen with a ceremony in Battery Park.
The VFW hosts this annual event honoring those who died serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard.
“This is not a celebration. This is the commemoration, this is a solemn moment, this is a serious time,” said U.S. Army Rev. Mark Hughes (Ret.)
Hughes told those assembled that we enjoy our freedom because of the fallens’ ultimate sacrifice.
UPPER VALLEY PARADES AN OPPORTUNITY TO HONOR AND EDUCATE
Memorial Day is a chance to honor those who never made it home. But for at least one veteran in New Hampshire, it’s also a time to remember those who put their life on the line every day.
As music filled the air on Pleasant Street and parade-goers gathered on the sidewalk in Claremont Monday, Stanley Clark stood alone on the town green. He traveled from across the river in Springfield.
“Honor the ones who didn’t make it back and honor the ones who are still in the service,” Clark said. The Army veteran spent a year in Vietnam. He says he was one of the lucky ones. “I was lucky in Vietnam, I didn’t hit any of the hard stuff. I missed it by inches.”
Peter Nelson’s brother did not make it home. “Of course, I just was devastated. We all were,” Nelson said. His brother was shot down in Vietnam and died protecting his men. “His body took 22 bullets but there were survivors who remembered that sacrifice.”
The parades and flags are for those Gold Star families and the soldiers who laid down their own lives for their country. “I am very grateful for those who come forward and give that service to protect all of the families in America,” Nelson said.
From Claremont to Lebanon, the music continued, as the bands marched on. For some, the scars of war are tough to talk about. “We reflect and we talk -- we don’t dwell. that’s not a good issue, but we talk about it,” said Allen Peterson. But what comes easy for the Marine Corps veteran and some others is paying tribute. “To acknowledge those who have passed and their way of giving.”
It’s a day of remembrance but also an opportunity to educate the younger generations about the sacrifices of those who came before them for the freedoms they have today.
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