Pelham Town Supervisor Peter DiPaolaw as this year's Grand Marshal of the Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27. The keynote speaker at the post parade ceremony was Bob Shepherd, a Pelham resident and a veteran of nearly twenty years service with the 22nd SAS Regiment and currently a media commentator.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, firemen and policemen and civic groups marched in the parade along with elected officials in a parade that is a 100 year old tradition.
The Town of Pelham and Pelham Post #50 of the American Legion hosted the Memorial Day Parade honoring those Pelhamites who lost their lives in America's wars and conflicts. The parade included a contingent of sailors serving on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Hue City, the only U.S. Navy ship named after a battle in the Vietnam War.
The most solemn point of the post parade ceremony was an Honor Salute, the reading of the names of the 87 residents of Pelham who were killed in America's wars from the Spanish American War to the wars continuing today in Afghanistan and Iraq and the playing of Taps.
Here are Supervisor DiPaola's remarks at the ceremony:
Welcome to the Pelham Memorial Day parade and ceremony. Each year we gather on this solemn day of remembrance to commemorate those who gave their lives in defense of our nation, our freedoms, our principles, and the fundamental and immutable principles for which we stand. We gather to pay tribute to those military women and men who have served and are serving their country. Most importantly, though, we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while in service to our country to make sure that our freedoms are preserved.
I feel a host of emotions standing before you as today’s Grand Marshal. I feel humbled to have such an honor bestowed on me. I feel dutiful in the face of the responsibility I bear to lead us in this solemn tribute. I feel pride in what the military men and women of our nation (including those with us today as well as those, sadly, no longer with us) have accomplished.
I even feel honored that Pelham’s American Legion Post 50 would consider me for service as the Grand Marshal of Pelham’s 2019 Memorial Day Parade.
As I prepared for today, I pondered my family’s settlement in Pelham nearly seventy years ago. We settled here just in time for me to start kindergarten at Siwanoy. One of my parents’ first projects at our home was installation of a flagpole on our front lawn for the coming holidays. They each emigrated to America with their parents to seek better lives. They embraced America and our American ideals. They never looked back. As I grew up, our parents proudly taught all of us about the greatness they had achieved living in America. My parents instilled in their children a profound respect for this country and, especially, for those who fought and defended our great nation.
I am honored to stand here amongst these great servicewomen, servicemen, and veterans who have given some part of their lives to protect and defend the greatest country in world history.
For almost all the many years I have lived in Pelham I have attended Pelham’s Memorial Day parade. I have stood along the route cheering on people whom I knew, the many bands that marched, and the troops who helped our Town commemorate those who fought and died for our nation. In my later years I had the honor and privilege to march in the parade myself. Never, however, did I think that I would bear this solemn and humbling responsibility to pay tribute to those who have died serving in the American armed forces. Indeed, even being considered for this responsibility by people whom I admire so much for their own service to our nation is overwhelming and something I will never forget.
We all understand that Memorial Day brings the unofficial start of summer. It often brings us our first barbecue of the season. It provides a cherished opportunity to gather with family and friends. These are all wonderful things and we should never feel guilty for enjoying them during this solemn day. But we do need to remember and respect those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to insure our freedoms and to give us the continued opportunities to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices.
On this glorious Memorial Day may God Bless those who sacrificed their lives for our country. May God bless those who serve our nation today and in the future. May God bless the veterans who have served for our country. And, in honor of all of them, may God Bless us all and the United States of America.