Nobody can rain on our parade: Locals come out to remember the fallen

Towns throughout the Connecticut were forced to cancel Memorial Day activities and parades when rain swept through the state on Monday morning, but members of the Marine Corps League, above, along with members of the American Legion, the town council, and dozens of residents turned out for all of the planned memorial ceremonies, flag raisings, and an unofficial parade. Locals braved the weather to ensure that Southington still honored its fallen heroes.

Towns throughout the Connecticut were forced to cancel Memorial Day activities and parades when rain swept through the state on Monday morning, but members of the Marine Corps League, above, along with members of the American Legion, the town council, and dozens of residents turned out for all of the planned memorial ceremonies, flag raisings, and an unofficial parade. Locals braved the weather to ensure that Southington still honored its fallen heroes.

By TAYLOR HARTZ
STAFF WRITER

Although expected rains washed out plans for the annual Memorial Day parade, members of the American Legion, Marine Corps League and the Southington Town Council came out to walk the parade route on Monday morning.

Dozens of Southington residents lined Main Street, waving American flags and showing their gratitude for our nation’s fallen heroes despite not-so-sunny skies.

While the rain held off for most of the morning, Steve McCarty of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, said they made the decision to cancel the parade around 8:30 a.m., due to a weather forecast of heavy rains.

“We were not taking the chance of people getting hurt,” said McCarty, who said their main concerns were wet pavement, and water damage to band students’ instruments and the Knights of Columbus’ capes and hats.

McCarty joined many members of local veterans’ committees at Derynoski Elementary School at 10:30 a.m. where they marched the parade route in honor of fallen heroes. McCarty noted that 45 Southington residents lost their lives while serving our country—33 men in World War II, one in the Korean War, 10 in the Vietnam War, and one in the War on Terror.

“To honor them, we still walked,” said McCarty.

Steve McCarty, right, of the American Legion presents the Southington Police Officer of the Year Award to Det. Mark Beal of the Southington Police Department for his outstanding service to the community.

Steve McCarty, right, of the American Legion presents the Southington Police Officer of the Year Award to Det. Mark Beal of the Southington Police Department for his outstanding service to the community.

Prior to the traditional parade route march, memorial services were held at 12 locations throughout town. American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 visited Panthorn Park, Recreation Park, Wonx Springs Cemetery, Quinnipiac Cemetery, Immaculate Cemetery, and South End Cemetery. The Marine Corps League conducted services at St. Thomas Cemetery, Oak Hill Cemetery, Memorial Park, Holy Trinity Cemetery, and the West Street Cemetery.

The Legion and League joined together at the Southington Care Center at 8:45 a.m. for a joint flag raising ceremony on the rehab center’s front lawn. After returning to the American Legion hall on Main Street following their march, crowds gathered indoors for a memorial ceremony.

At the start of the ceremony, the legion recognized a local officer for his dedication to serving Southington. Detective Mark Beal of the Southington Police Department (SPD) was recognized as the “Southington Police Officer of the Year”—a commendation awarded annually to an officer for his or her outstanding service to the community.

Members of the legion then placed a white cross at a table set for all those who are missing in action or prisoners of war before beginning a series of memorial speeches.

Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio (R) addressed veterans and guests with an excerpt from a speech by former President Ronald Reagan that recognized the “price that has been paid for freedom,” said Riccio.

Town councilors Victoria Triano (R), Chris Palmieri (D), Ed Pocock III (R), and Tom Lombard(R) joined Riccio at the ceremony, where state representatives for Southington, Joe Aresimowicz (D) and David Zoni (D), delivered speeches.

“Many of us have personally known a service man or woman, far too many of us have suffered the loss a loved one in service to our country,” said Zoni, who urged residents to honor the memories of those lost, and to help care for veterans who returned from war. Aresimowicz thanked the members of the American Legion and local veterans organizations for honoring and serving veterans everyday.

“We must never stop fighting for veterans, they never stopped fighting for us,” said Zoni.

Photos by TAYLOR HARTZ

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Steve McCarty, right, of American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 salutes while Dominic Beloin raises the flag at a Memorial Day ceremony at Southington Care.

Steve McCarty, right, of American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 salutes while Dominic Beloin raises the flag at a Memorial Day ceremony at Southington Care.

Flowers helped brighten up the downtown memorials.

Flowers helped brighten up the downtown memorials.

Visitors pay their respect for Southington's fallen soldiers.

Visitors pay their respect for Southington’s fallen soldiers.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, representatives from the American Legion march in the 'unofficial' parade.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, representatives from the American Legion march in the ‘unofficial’ parade.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, local veterans march in the 'unofficial' parade.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, local veterans march in the ‘unofficial’ parade.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, the Marine Corps League marches in the 'unofficial' parade.

Even though the Memorial Day parade was canceled, the Marine Corps League marches in the ‘unofficial’ parade.

Dozens of residents showed up downtown as an 'unofficial' parade sprang up on the parade route.

Dozens of residents showed up downtown as an ‘unofficial’ parade sprang up on the parade route.

Rain couldn't keep residents from honoring Memorial Day.

Rain couldn’t keep residents from honoring Memorial Day.

Heather Hudson volunteered to sing the National Anthem, on the spot, as officials scrambled to bring the Memorial Day ceremonies indoors to escape the rain. Many towns across the state canceled ceremonies, but Southington still managed to honor its fallen heroes.

Heather Hudson volunteered to sing the National Anthem, on the spot, as officials scrambled to bring the Memorial Day ceremonies indoors to escape the rain. Many towns across the state canceled ceremonies, but Southington still managed to honor its fallen heroes.

Southington police salute during a ceremony at the American Legion hall.

Southington police salute during a ceremony at the American Legion hall.

Town Councilors pay their respect.

Town Councilors pay their respect.

Town Councilors show their respect.

Town Councilors show their respect.

Town Council Chair Mike Riccio addresses the group during the indoor ceremony at the American Legion Hall.

Town Council Chair Mike Riccio addresses the group during the indoor ceremony at the American Legion Hall.

House Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D) addresses the group at a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 hall.

House Leader Joe Aresimowicz (D) addresses the group at a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 hall.

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