Jun 06, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Hundreds of Skaneateles residents, village and town, young and old, turned out on Memorial Day in downtown Skaneateles to honor the soldiers who fought and died in service to the United States.
The annual parade started at the Skaneateles American Legion Post on Jordan Road, wound through the village for wreath-laying ceremonies and speeches at two cemeteries and the veterans memorial in Shotwell Park.
Veterans from World War II up through the ongoing war in Afghanistan participated in and observed the parade, including bronze star winner Army Sgt. Bill Blessing Jr. of the famed 101st Airborne Division and the first female ever in the Honor Guard, Airman First Class Elizabeth McLennan. Also in the parade marched firefighters, boy scouts, girl scouts, the Skaneateles high school marching band and volunteers of various stripes.
The Memorial Day parade is a familiar event in Skaneateles, just like it is in every town across the country, but this year the feeling was a little more present and open. Despite the gloomy skies, residents lined the streets and waited patiently for the flags and soldiers to reach them.
With America sending its sons and daughters to two theaters of conflict, residents here appreciate the importance of the moment. It’s the communities’ opportunity to show their heartfelt support of the troops and pay respect to those who have fallen. As marchers passed, residents, some with tears in their eyes, applauded and cheered soldiers they didn’t even know but are grateful for having.
From the wreath-laying ceremony at St. Mary’s Church cemetery, the procession marched on to Lake View Cemetery for a second wreath laying and a speech by Rev. Dr. Craig Lindsey. Rev. Lindsay, of the First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles, quoted from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and enjoined the spectators never to forget what America’s military has done for the country.
After the final wreath-laying ceremony at Shotwell Park, retired Pentagon Col. Edward Magdziak gave the main dedicatory address. “Over 1 million men and women have died since 1775,” said Magdziak, who was at the Pentagon on 9/11 and helped in the aftermath of the attack. “It’s a day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Magdziak offered his listeners a brief history of Memorial Day, saying many Americans have forgotten the day’s meaning. There is a difference, he said, between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Veterans Day is for the soldiers who fought, came home, and lead lives as best they could; Memorial Day is for those who paid the ultimate price. “Our nation is free because of the sacrifices they have made.”
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.