WHITMAN — An occasional chilly sprinkle from leaden skies couldn’t put a damper on the town’s Memorial Day parade and traditional observances on Monday, May 29.
After last year’s parade was rained out, organizers vowed this year’s parade would go on as rain was forecast to hold off until the afternoon.
As the parade formed at Court Street ahead of the 9:30 a.m. step-off, residents began to line the South Avenue route in front of Town Hall and Cub Scout leaders organized a group photo on the steps to occupy their energetic scouts.
Town Hall was the first stop along the parade route for a prayer by American Legion member Richard Cameron and remarks by state Rep. Geoff Diehl.
“On this Memorial Day, help us to remember with deepest gratitude and awe the extraordinary men and women who, out of love, gave their lives to protect our beloved country and preserved our liberty,” Cameron prayed. “Help us to be ever-mindful, also, of the wounded heroes in our midst who, with valorous hearts, risked their lives that we might prosper and that our children’s future would be secure.”
Diehl also honored the sacrifice of those lost in defense of country, noting that international peace has been the goal of U.S. military deployments in both world wars as well as current missions in the Middle East.
“Americans are fortunate to have not fought a foreign army on our own soil in preservation of our liberty since the War of 1812,” Diehl said. “But we have had to remain vigilant after attacks on Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Centers, where justice for the innocent and the unarmed has cost us the lives of too many brave young men and women of our armed forces.”
Diehl said Memorial Day observances help keep those fallen warriors alive in our memories.
“It is our duty to answer their sacrifice by immortalizing them … so as not to ever to allow the life they gave, along with many of their brothers and sisters in arms, to be diminished,” he said. “They say that a person dies twice — the time when they take their last breath and the time when their name is last spoken.”
Memorial Day “provides the living legacy that keeps them from ever dying in vain,” Diehl said.
A ceremonia volley from a VFW firing squad and the playing of “Taps,” and “Echo,” by W-H students Sam Andruk and Matt Gallagher, were followed by the parade’s reforming and proceeding to the fire station on Temple Street for another wreath ceremony before concluding the route of march at Colebrook Cemetry where Boy Scout Nathan Morse read the “Gettysburg Address” during wreath ceremonies at the Civil War Unreturned and American Legion memorials.
Parade participants also gathered at the Whitman Park flag pole for the national anthem and pledge of allegiance and at the Civil War Soldiers Monument for Morse’s reading of Gen. Logan’s Order establishing the first Memorial Day in 1868 and finally to the Veterans of All Wars monument for a prayer and wreath ceremony.
Participating in Whitman’s parade were Grand Marshall Paul Riccilli of VFW Post 697, co-Marshall George Lopes of American Legion Post 22; Diehl, Town Administrator Frank Lynam Selectman Dan Salvucci; the Whitman Police and Fire departments, VFW Post 697, American Legion Post 22 and auxiliary; Sons of the American Legion Squad 22; Post 22 Legion Riders, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 119; Knights of Columbus Council 347; W-H band and majorettes, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Troop and Pack 22 as well as Troop and Pack 59; and Girl Scouts, Brownie and Daisy Scouts.