Memorial Day is not a day of mourning, Captain Melkon told those gathered, but instead a day of celebration in which we honor those who fought and fell for the United States, championing their selflessness, loyalty, and courage.
By Gillian Hand
The Memorial Day Parade is among the most cherished of Chappaqua traditions. In honor and remembrance of those who have fought for our nation, residents line the streets of downtown Chappaqua, following the parade from its start at the top of King Street to the concluding Memorial Plaza Ceremony in front of the Chappaqua Train Station. Each year, the community comes together in this celebration of American servicemen and women.
Despite mediocre weather conditions, Chappaqua residents came out in full force for the 2017 Memorial Day Parade. Throughout the light rains most of the morning, supporters brandishing American flags cheered on the marchers and attended the moving closing ceremony. This year, the parade featured many familiar appearances, from AYSO soccer teams, to girl and boy scout troops, to school district bands, to Chappaqua and New Castle administrative board members. Also present were first responders from the Chappaqua Fire Department and the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps, as well as members of the 5th New York Regiment Revolutionary War Squad, among many others.
In a greatly anticipated appearance, Hillary and Bill Clinton as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo also marched in the parade together with Town of New Castle’s board and regional leaders as they have done in prior years. Although the rain made this Memorial Day different than it has been in the past, the parade still obtained the important attendance and spirit levels which make the tradition so important to Chappaqua historical identity. As marchers completed the parade route, attendees convened at the Memorial Plaza Ceremony.
Veterans present at the parade were recognized and honored by speakers, and the stories of local servicemen were conveyed to listeners. Among the presenters was keynote speaker, the Army’s U.S. Captain John Melkon of the Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations at West Point. After being introduced by Grand Marshal James McCauley, Melkon discussed the men and women who have lost their lives in service to our nation. He remarked that Memorial Day is not a day of mourning, but instead a day of celebration in which we honor those who fought and fell for the United States, championing their selflessness, loyalty, and courage.
“Their lives are dedicated not to conflict or to death, but to compassion and to light,” said Melkon, tearing up in remembrance of fallen soldiers, including comrades of his own who gave their lives in the line of duty. Melkon’s words were passionate and deeply personal, urging attendees to commemorate the honorable service of those who have fought for the safety of the United States.
The Memorial Day Parade embodies the meaning of community, bringing together Chappaqua residents young and old. Each year, families, neighbors, and friends come out in celebration of servicemen and women and the sacrifices they have made for our nation.
Inside Press intern Gillian Hand is a senior at Horace Greeley High School.
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