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Monday, June 02, 2014

SMALL TOWN AMERICA ON MEMORIAL DAY 2014

Memorial Day 2014
Warwick High School student play Taps at the conclusion 
of the Memorial Day ceremony in the Warwick Cemetery
Sometimes the most wonderful place to be is in your own home town.  That’s the way I feel about Warwick.  I never drive up side streets to avoid Main Street.  I like to drive right up the Main Street.
I enjoy looking at the buildings, shops, and people of my town.  Warwick is charming.  It is small town as in “small town America out of the movies.”  It is the way people dream a small town should be.

Never is that warm community feeling more obvious than on Memorial Day.  The parade through town  warms the heart.  The sidewalks are lined deep with residents of every age enthusiastically waving American flags as the veterans go past.  Some watchers call out “Thank you.”  Some veterans respond by smiling or saluting. They are the stars of this parade. 

Memorial Day 2014
Families gather early to get the best seats
Memorial Day 2014
The young people place flags wherever they can
We’ve been in Warwick for more than thirty years.  I remember when all the veterans walked the parade.  Lately many of the elderly ones are driven in cars or on wagons pulled by trucks or tractors.  Most recently their numbers have sadly dwindled as those from World War II and Korea leave us.  It’s disconcerting to see how few were there this year. 

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts march in the parade with homemade banners.

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day 2014
A marcher in training
The Ambulance Corps shows off its ambulances.  The fire trucks ride up Oakland Avenue, old and new, all gleaming and polished until the sun’s rays hitting their surfaces reflect off in a glare.

Memorial Day 2014

What we learn is that those who served our country in the military are more likely than not to come home and serve our community.  A great number of our volunteer firemen march together as former members of the military. 

Memorial Day 2014
Numerous veterans volunteer for our Fire Department.
I'm sure you'll find the same exists on the Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Always in our parade are members of the Stewart family—generations of men who have gone off in service to our country. 

Memorial Day 2014
Members of the Stewart family usually serve as honor guard
and lead the parade
As the parade ends, we gather in the Warwick Cemetery for a ceremony involving the VFW, the American Legion, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and local politicians.

Memorial Day 2014
This Boy Scout reads The Gettysburg Address
Memorial Day 2014
This Girl Scout tells us the story of "Taps"
We used to honor at our services a Gold Star Mother, Caroline Lesando, whose son, Nicholas, was killed in Vietnam.  The American Legion Nicholas P. Lesando Jr. Post #214 is named after him.  His mother participated each year but she has aged and has moved to be closer to her daughter.

There was a new American Legion Chaplain too as the prior one passed away some weeks ago.  His wife, part of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, was there, however.  This is what they did together, and she will carry on alone.  When the Commander of the American Legion spoke, he reminded us that fast approaching is the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 4th.  There were people at the ceremony who participated in that moment in history.

This is a town where the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars play important roles.  For the last few years they’ve enlisted the aid of Boy Scouts who help place an American flag on the grave of every veteran in the Warwick Cemetery.  As the veteran ranks decline, the remaining ones are teaching young men the importance of remembering and honoring.  That is still a great service.

Memorial Day 2014
This is the Memorial.
The wreaths were placed by the different Veteran organizations
and the Women's Auxiliary.
I wonder what is going through these young boys' heads.
When the names of the fallen are read aloud—including our recent losses in Iraq and Afghanistan—one also hears the old familiar names of families who have farmed this area for generations. 

Enjoy the photos.  I believe with all my heart that the men and women we honor on Memorial Day fought to keep this vision of America alive and intact.



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