The sun had finally broken through the clouds in time for Chief Officer J. Michael Welch to take the stand at the conclusion of the Marcellus Memorial Day Parade on West Main Street Monday morning.
Welch, retired United States Army, joined the military in February 1967 and was assigned to the 110th medical attachment in Frankfort, Germany. Welch began his speech by describing his experience while walking along the infamous shores in northern France at the site of the invasion of Normandy during World War II.
"Many of you do not realize the number of men and women buried overseas that never came home," Welch said. "They lie to rest in foreign nations. That day, I walked through the granite tombstones... I saw sons, fathers and grandfathers who were laid to rest."
Welch then addressed the men and women who have died for their country.
Their job is over," he said. "They now lie in peace and serenity. Thank you to all of them. May they rest in peace."
About 50 feet in front of the stage was Marcellus's newest addition to its Memorial Day celebrations: rows of American flags placed in front of the Marcellus United Methodist Church and along the sidewalk in front of the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Each flag had a ribbon with the name of a military officer who is currently serving or has served or died in the military.
"They're wonderful, aren't they?" said Stephen Martin, vice commander of the American Legion Ralph Share Post 297. "I think now that people see it, they'll catch on. There will be twice as many next year."
More than 150 flags, each priced at $40, were featured in the display. Mary Grace McGuire-Kelley of Marcellus bought one to honor her nephew, Lt. Col. Jeremy P. McGuire, who is currently serving his second tour in Afghanistan.
"It's amazing how having someone in the service... affects the entire family," McGuire-Kelley said. "It's something that's always with you, in your thoughts and prayers."
The display was sponsored by the American Legion and the Marcellus Girls Lacrosse Club, and will be featured again on the 10th anniversary of September 11.
After his speech, Welch joined his fellow veterans in saluting the American flag while the Marcellus High School band performed "The Star-Spangled Banner."