While rain may have been in the forecast Saturday afternoon, that didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of those who attended the at Greis Park.
As the opening ceremonies began, organizers made sure to honor those whose service make such celebrations significant: military veterans.
Beginning with the presentation of colors, local veterans played a large role in the meaningful ceremony.
“That’s what Memorial Day is all about,” Deputy Mayor Alan Beach said. “My father is a disabled vet. It’s very endearing to me.”
Beach was a member of the committee that organized the event. Throughout the last few weeks, the group worked tirelessly to solicit sponsors to donate funds and resources.
“All this is paid by donations,” Beach said. “Everyone stayed on their game and tried to help. We tried to do as much as we [could] with donations. The people were wonderful.”
Astoria Bank and Atria Tanglewood were both major sponsors.
The day featured no shortage of entertainment options, activities and food. All food items were sold for $1 and money raised was donated to soldiers currently fighting overseas.
“They put together care packages to send overseas so that [soldiers] have shaving cream and things of that nature,” Beach said.
Local veterans were given VIP service in a nearby tent. The tent featured tables and chairs for those who served to dine in comfort with their family members.
One of those veterans, former mayor Francis Becker, was delighted to spend time with his fellow servicemen and his former constituents.
“The village is being kept up very well,” Becker said. “They’ve kept it in good condition. It makes it very nice when we’re here to enjoy it.”
Becker stood with his fellow veterans and watched as local high schoolers performed patriotic songs and Mayor William Hendrick recognized the Patriots Weekend committee.
American Legion Commander Henry Speicher, closed the ceremony by reading an ode to veterans. Speicher found the ode on the Internet and felt it was particularly relevant to the weekend.
“It is the veteran, not the preacher, that has given us the freedom of religion,” Speicher read. “It is the veteran, not the reporter that has given us the freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, that has given us the freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer that has given us the freedom to assemble.”
Speicher continued: “It is the veteran, not the lawyer, that has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the veteran who salutes the flag.”
After the reading, Specher’s comments were brief, but powerful.
“I hope you all remember those words and God bless the veterans,” he said.