T he community of Granville paid homage to America’s fallen heroes Monday.
Despite overcast skies and a spattering of rain, hundreds of onlookers lined North and Main streets to watch the annual Memorial Day parade.
Children, along with their parents and family members, many of whom waved small American flags, watched the procession, which stretched nearly a mile long and included the Granville junior and senior high school marching bands, Boy and Girl Scouts, youth groups, fire departments, the Granville EMS and the local American Legion and VFW posts, represented by the community’s veterans. And while it was a festive occasion, with children throwing handfuls of candy to onlookers and fire trucks sounding their horns, there were also moments that reminded those assembled of the day’s true purpose.
After the procession made its way down Main Street, a crowd of a few hundred people gathered at Veteran’s Memorial Park, where local dignitaries spoke about the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“Memorial Day is not a day of solemn mourning but of reverent celebration,” Mayor Brian LaRose said. “We celebrate ordinary men and women who rose to meet seemingly impossible odds and did extraordinary things.”
“I ask that you remember those who stood shoulder to shoulder against terror and oppression….support their families, never forget the missing and rejoice in their lives.”
Sam Hall, assistant service manager for the Washington County American Legion, spoke about Myles Eckert, a nine-year old boy, who gave $20 he had found in a restaurant parking lot and a hand-written note to a soldier dining in the same restaurant. The note read: “Dear Soldier—my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”
Hall said Memorial Day is about honoring soldiers, like Myles’ dad, Andy Eckert, who was killed in Iraq, only five weeks after his son was born.
“We are gathered today to remember those who are no longer with us today because they sacrificed their lives in defense of our country. These sacrifices have been made throughout history.”
He said “American heroes” continue to die in the conflict in Afghanistan and in other areas around the world.
“The loss to their family, friends, fellow service men and country is permanent…that’s why Memorial Day is important. It’s not just to honor those who participate in the hellacious firefights, but to honor the one million service men and women from the American Revolution to the Global War on Terrorism who have died in defense of our country,” Hall said.
Prior to the parade, members of the American Legion and VFW gathered in front of the high school to lay wreaths on one of the monuments dedicated to Granville’s veterans. Similar ceremonies were held later that morning at the Elmwood Cemetery in Granville and at Mettawee Cemetery just prior to the start of the parade. A wreath was also thrown into off the Main Street Bridge to recognize Navy personnel who had died in service to their country.
Last Wednesday, flags were placed at the graves of every Granville veteran.
“These are very solemn ceremonies,” Butch Hulburt, a member of the VFW said. “It means a lot to these guys (local veterans) and it’s important we never forget.”
They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.