By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — Hundreds of marchers and spectators turned out Monday to honor fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
A long procession of marchers and floats took part in the 76th annual Memorial Day parade that lined up in the parking lot of St. John the Baptist Church, proceeded down Route 81 and turned the corner at Route 32 as hundreds of local residents lined the streets, cheering them on.
U.S. Navy veteran George Langdon, who served in the Vietnam War, said the large turnout of supporters and marchers was touching and a display of the community spirit in Greenville.
“I love it here. It always brings tears to my eyes,” Langdon said of the parade. “Whenever something like this is done here, we always have strong support here in the community.”
Marchers, including law enforcement, the American Legion and other veterans’ groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, youth groups, local businesses and organizations took part in the parade and afterwards, everyone gathered at Veterans Memorial Park at the intersection of Routes 81 and 32 for the Memorial Day service.
U.S. Army veteran Bill Myers, who served in the Korean War between 1951 and 1954, said he appreciated the large turnout to support veterans and to honor fallen troops. His wife, Beverly Myers, was gratified to see the number of people who came to show their support.
“It’s wonderful to see all the people that came out,” Beverly Myers said. “There are a lot of people here this year. People have been cooped up for so long, I think they are all ready to get out.”
American Legion Post 291 Auxiliary member Catherine Huber performed the national anthem and “God Bless America.” The parade and service were a tribute to the community, she said.
“It’s spectacular, it really is,” Huber said. “It always warms my heart when I am standing here at the gazebo and I look out and see all the kids and all the community organizations. It just warms my heart.”
Past Chaplain Jerry Adinolfi from American Legion Post 291 performed the invocation and benediction, and spoke before the ceremony of the importance of honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“We need to honor the men and women who through the years have given their lives so we can be here and be free, and not be told what to do, to live according to the Constitution of the United States,” Adinolfi said.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was created to honor those who died in service. Decoration Day was created three years after the end of the Civil War, on May 5, 1868, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. The birthplace of the holiday remains uncertain, with 25 cities claiming to be the first to celebrate it, but in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson and Congress declared Waterloo, NY, to be the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, according to the department.
American Legion Post 291 Commander Raymond Albin was the keynote speaker for the service and spoke of the sacrifices made by American heroes.
“Memorial Day is not about picnics and parades, though there is nothing wrong with enjoying and celebrating our American way of life,” Albin said. “Memorial Day is about gratitude and remembrance. It is about honoring the men and women who made it possible for us to gather here today in peace.”
Monday’s large turnout for the parade was a tribute to the community, Past Commander Donald Savino said.
“With what is going on in the country, to see people come out to show their patriotism, to honor the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Savino said, “it makes us veterans that are alive very proud of our community here in Greenville.”
Check out more images from this year’s Memorial Day parade: