WETHERSFIELD - Rain may have washed out Wethersfield’s annual Memorial Day Parade, but the less than ideal weather did not stop a sizable amount of residents from attending the town’s ceremony in the Wethersfield High School gymnasium on Saturday morning.
“I know it’s tough to put that work in and wake up on the day to find out that you’re not going to have a parade,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who addressed the crowd that had filled the available bleacher space. “But the turnout you have here is still better than other places.”
The original plan was for a parade that would have started back at the Wethersfield Department of Motor Vehicles building on State Street. The procession would then march a 1.2-mile route through Old Wethersfield, as well as the Broad Street Green, and finish at the cemetery entrance at Marsh Street. The event would conclude with a memorial ceremony inside the cemetery.
Aside from the lack of an actual parade, the indoor event included most of what the parade would have--boy and girl scout troops attended, the Wethersfield High School marching band played patriotic songs, and the names of Wethersfield veterans lost in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, were read by Deputy Mayor John Console. And, most importantly, the ceremony’s intended purpose was not lost with the change of venue.
“There are a lot of folks now who are at the store,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. “They’re taking advantage of the bargains, maybe getting ready for barbeques. You are here honoring the memory of those who sacrificed. Thank you for keeping faith of what’s really important about what Memorial Day is about.”
Blumenthal also emphasized the importance of addressing issues such as veteran suicide rates, health benefits, and unemployment.
“We have a lot of work to do to keep faith with our veterans,” he said. “Remember that, not only on Memorial Day, but 365 days a year.”
The ceremony was attended by Governor Dannel Malloy and Mayor Donna Hemmann, as well as members of the Town Council and Board of Education. The ceremony also honored Charles Officer, a World War II veteran. The parade committee chose to place emphasis on those that served during World War II, although not exclusively, in order to keep up with a tradition of highlighting a particular conflict, said Committee Chairman Larry Spellacy before the event.
The event also featured a presentation from Silas Deane Middle School eighth-grader Alexis Maher, whose essay regarding the holiday’s meaning won a Memorial Day Committee contest. Maher has a father in the military, and focused her paper on the effect that has had on her.
“Memorial Day isn’t just another day for me,” Maher said. “It’s a walk, or a car ride to the store. I cherish every moment I have with [my family] that I can, as I’m sure every military family does.”
The event was co-sponsored by the American Legion, along with Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign War, and the Wethersfield Parks and Recreation Department.