Hudson Celebrates Memorial Day
by Lynne Ober
Captain Terry Martin, USAF Retired, decided to speak on three separate topics for the Memorial Day Service held on Library Common at the end of the annual Memorial Day parade organized by Hudson’s American Legion Post.
“I decided that I wanted to tell the audience a little bit about the history of Memorial Day. I think that’s important for the youngsters. I wanted to tell them a bit about the Poppy story. People don’t remember why poppies are a symbol of remembering and honoring our veterans,” Martin said, who recalled that the poppy movement, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces in 1915 before the United States entered World War I, originated in some of the allied countries immediately after the Armistice.
However, no organized, nationwide sale of poppies was conducted in America until 1921, when the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies ostensibly for the benefit of children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium.
In America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was the first veteran organization to promote an organized campaign for the annual distribution of poppies assembled by American disabled and needy veterans. In 1924, the VFW patented the name "Buddy Poppy" for their version of the artificial flower. All the money contributed by the public for Buddy Poppies is used in the cause of veteran’s welfare, or for the well being of their dependents or orphans of veterans.
The American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as the organization's memorial flower and pledged its use to benefit our servicemen and their families. Today, the poppy continues to provide a financial and therapeutic benefit to those hospitalized and disabled veterans who construct them, as well as benefiting thousands of other veterans and their families.
“It’s an important piece of our history and of our way of honoring our servicemen,” Martin smiled.
The third piece of his speech was to recognize and fondly remember the Missed Comrades. “Servicemen and women who made a difference in all of our lives.” As he watched the darkening sky, he worried that the parade and celebration would be rained out.
Finally it was time to start.
Hudson Police Department’s Color Guard led the way with the Hudson-Litchfield News’s antique parade truck immediately behind. Grand Marshall for the Parade, Gerry Carrier, who recently returned from Iraq, rode on the truck with children.
Members of American Legion Post 48 proudly walked in the parade as did Girl Scouts, Daisy Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts. America’s youth walked with America’s veterans – all groups honoring the day and pleasing the gathered crowd.
Alvirne High School was well represented. The Junior ROTC Color Guard led the other Junior ROTC Cadets and their instructor Colonel Grady.
What’s a parade without bands and music? The American Legion Band played God Bless America. The Alvirne High School band, dressed in their parade uniforms, marched and played to the delight of the crowd. Hudson Memorial Band followed the Alvirne band.
The Marines, Navy, and Fleet Reserve were present. The Red Cross and Salvation Army entered vehicles in the parade. There were antique cars and floats honoring veterans.
Many local groups marched in the parade. Hudson’s Fire Department fire engines, although last in line, was a crowd favorite.
Marching from the Hannaford Shopping Center to Library Common where a wreath was waiting to be laid in honor of servicemen who gave their lives in the fight for their country’s freedom, the parade swelled as the crowd on the sidewalks joined in to march to the common where Joni Cappeniccico was to sing God Bless America, each of the bands was to play a song and Martin would speak.
It was a time for small time values to shine. A time for patriotism. A time to remember servicemen past as well as servicemen today.
Shortly after the 21-gun salute within the ceremony of Hudson's Memorial Day Parade, one uniformed man stands proud, but clearly away from the crowd and his band, playing a mournful taps. When asked if he's ever served in the military, Roger Gaskill, age 80, quietly states, "No, I never had that honor." In truth, Gaskill, who was rejected from active duty several times because of his flat feet, has served in the American Legion Band since 1946 and has not missed a Memorial Day parade in almost 60 years. His daughter shares that Roger recently lost his wife and that the Hudson Parade is Roger's second of the day and third of the weekend. As the 80 year-old smiles and hugs his 5 year old granddaughter, Hannah Vincent, from Durham, Roger adds, "I love it and it helps keep me young!"
Memorial Day Celebration in Litchfield
by Lynne Ober
Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died in our nation’s service. It’s a time to celebrate, a time to appreciate, and a time to remember. The best remembrances are those where communities gather together to show their respect and celebrate our nation’s value.
Litchfield’s Historical Society hosted the Memorial Day Service in Litchfield. After days of rain, cool weather, and dark, gray clouds, the morning was bright and sunny. Society members had decorated Old Town Hall for the celebration.
The parade began at 10:00 a.m. with Selectmen holding and marching behind a large American flag. What’s a parade without dogs barking, kids cheering, and people clapping? Litchfield had all of that and more. The Fire Department tooted their horns and blew their sirens. Fire Chief Tom Schofield had rigged a hose that squirted water much to the delight of kids of all ages. The Moxie Mobile participated, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Brownies marched with their troops. Softball and baseball teams marched. There were bikes decorated for Memorial Day, a lion walked behind Lion Club members. Convertibles drove by, horses paraded by, and antique tractors, decorated with red, white, and blue and flowers drove by. The McQuesten Farm float was a big hit. Litchfield Police Chief Joseph O’Biron drove the DARE car…waving both hands out the windows.
Campbell High School student, Bonnie Newell, sang the Star Spangled Banner. The two chiefs led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Pastor Paul Miller, wearing his patriotic sweater, gave the Invocation, and the Boy Scouts presented the Colors.
Dr. Steven Calawa, President of the Litchfield Historical Society, welcomed everyone to the celebration and told the audience that the day’s event was dedicated to those who served our country.
“Since 1868 flags and flowers have been given as a tribute to those who lost their lives,” said Margaret Parent, introducing the Campbell High School band, under the direction of Mr. Martin. “We have 41 band students,” she told the audience. The band played America the Beautiful.
Campbell High School student, Ben Towne, who is also a member of the band, read his award winning essay about “Celebrating Our Veteran’s Service.”
“One of America’s greatest resources is freedom,” Towne stated. He urged the audience to remember what the veterans of our country fought for and to celebrate their service in defending America and all that America stands for.
“We are here to celebrate not only our past, but also to recognize our present heroes – men and women who are serving around the world,” Parent told the audience when she introduced Newell to sing There You’ll Be from the movie Pearl Harbor.
After Campbell High School band played The Alamo March, Parent asked the Selectmen to come forward to make a presentation.
They recognized long-time Litchfield employee Diane Jerry and presented her with a gift for her many years of service. Jerry told the audience, “We are really blessed to live in a town like this.”
Calawa invited everyone to stay for refreshments, to tour through the Historical Society building, and thanked them for coming.
Pastor Miller gave the Benediction before the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts with Will Jewett and Leon Calawa laid the three wreaths. Echo Taps were played by Emily Blackadar, Melissa Goczalk, and Andrew Towne.