By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — The streets of Greenville were lined Monday with hundreds of supporters for the annual Memorial Day parade in honor of those troops that made the ultimate sacrifice.
Many spectators waved flags and cheered as marchers went by. Veterans’ groups, first responders, a marching band, youth organizations, local businesses and many others participated in this year’s parade.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and was initially observed following the Civil War, when more than 620,000 troops were killed, roughly 2% of the nation’s population, according to the National Archives. The holiday was called Decoration Day because it was a day to decorate the graves of Union troops killed in battle.
“From this beginning, Memorial Day is now designated as an annual day of remembrance to honor all those who have died in service to the United States during peace and war,” according to the organization.
This year’s parade, now in its 77th year, lined up at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church and traveled down Route 81, ending at Veterans Memorial Park, where a remembrance ceremony was held.
The national anthem was performed by the Greenville High School Band and the invocation was recited by Past Chaplain Jerry Adinolfi from American Legion Post 291.
Commander Ray Albin from Greenville’s American Legion Post 291 was the keynote speaker and delivered a message from the organization’s national headquarters.
All troops, no matter how long ago they died in battle, will always be remembered, he said.
“We do not forget,” Albin said. “Whether it’s an hour ago or a century ago, we remember.”
The commander told stories of American military heroes over the years who came from all quarters of the nation and from different conflicts.
“The men and women who died for our freedom represent the diverse patchwork that is the United States of America,” Albin said. “They were rich and poor, Black and white, male and female. They were from cities, farms and suburbs. They came from every ethnicity, background and political spectrum. In short, they looked like any one of us.”
“Their one common characteristic is that they all took an oath to die for America if called upon,” he added.
With the sacrifice of those troops who were honored Monday comes a responsibility for the rest of us to always remember them and their contributions.
“We can ensure that the memories of these heroes and their sacrifices are not in vain,” Albin said. “We can ensure that future generations understand the importance of service, sacrifice and honor. We can ensure through our own community service that our country remains strong, free and prosperous.”
Greene County American Legion Past Commander Steve Mataraza was the service’s master of ceremonies. He said it was gratifying seeing such a large turnout Monday, both in the parade and the hundreds of spectators that turned out to pay tribute.
“It signifies the pandemic is over and the community wants to come out and celebrate,” Mataraza said. “Greenville has always been a very patriotic community and I’m glad to see the big turnout of all the local organizations as well as the community at large.”
Here are more images from Monday’s parade: