By TAYLOR HARTZ
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.
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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