Valley marks Memorial Day
SAYRE - An announcement rang down Desmond Street Monday morning in Sayre.
It was the news everyone was waiting to hear.
"Here comes the parade!" someone shouted.
With summer-like weather, people showed up for the Valley Memorial Day Parade to pay tribute to those who gave their life for their country as well as living veterans and those serving today in the armed forces.
Once again this year, fallen soldier Oliver Brown from the Valley was remembered in the parade as a banner was carried in the procession. It included his photo and the words, "Honoring a Fallen Soldier" and "Keeping His Memory Alive." He was killed in Iraq in 2005 at the age of 19.
Marching bands, fire trucks, and floats moved through downtown Sayre as a prelude to the Valley Veterans' Day Memorial Day ceremony held after the parade at the gazebo at Howard Elmer Park.
"It was nice," said Tammy Callear after the parade. She said that she liked seeing the veterans and watching the high school bands, which she said were "excellent."
Her son, John Fice, 15, was in the Sayre High School Marching Band.
Bart Hoggins from Morgantown, W.Va., who is in the area working for Great Plains, was there with his family.
"It was great," he said, noting his daughter liked the candy that was tossed out and seeing the Dairy Princess. "She liked the horse at the end."
Frank G. Mills Sr., VFW Past State Commander, was the guest speaker at the ceremony. He served in the United States Navy in the Vietnam War and is the recipient of several service medals and the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon.
"It's truly an honor to be here, to be a part of your service," he said. "Nowhere in history has there been a country before ours that has given so much to ensure freedom for others."
"With this being the first Memorial Day since the end of the Iraq War, we are once again reminded of the full cost of war, from beginning to end. The Iraq War lasted over eight years and in that time, we lost nearly 4,500 of the best and brightest young men and women our nation has to offer, suffering far more casualties than any other nation fighting amongst us, and the same grim facts hold true as we speak of the efforts in Afghanistan today."
But he said the lives of our fallen warriors are not lost in vain.
He stated that "each life lost has contributed to the evolution of America as we know it today, a free nation, a strong nation, and the greatest nation on earth."
"As we stand together today, as we as a nation mourn the lives lost, we celebrate the lives lived, and are forever grateful above all in an attempt to pay back our debt to those we owe so much as American citizens."
He said it's also important to teach young people that nothing comes without a price and sacrifices are meaningless without remembrance.
"The courage possessed by the men and women who we are honoring today is something that cannot be taught. Their willingness to put country first is what truly makes America home of the brave."
A moment of silence was observed for the late Leon Thomas.
Described by many as a "pillar of the community," Thomas was known by many for his service on the Tioga County Legislature, a position he was elected into in 1972. Thomas held that position for 29 years.
Also notable of Thomas' career was his service to his country in the United States Navy in 1944 during World War II. In fact, Thomas' 20 years of service included service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
Those participating in the ceremony included Patrick Hoagland, Commander, Catholic War Vets, providing the welcome and introduction of the master of ceremonies; Brian Simonovich, Vice Commander, Catholic War Vets, master of ceremonies; Rev. James Donahoo, Sayre Christian Church, providing the invocation and benediction; Girl Scout Alyssa Liddane, saying the Pledge of Allegiance; the Sayre High School Marching Band, playing the National Anthem and other music; Eagle Scout Garrett Burlew, reciting the Gettysburg Address; Frank Altieri, Ball Skerpon Catholic War Veterans, reading the Orders of the Day; Harry Early, Grand Marshall, placing the wreath at the monument; Valley Color Guard units, providing the volleys; Derek Young and Alex Moliski, Sayre High School Band members, playing "Taps with an Echo;" and George Whyte, playing "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes.
The Sayre American Legion received the parade trophy for having an entry that most closely followed the theme of "Remembering Those Who Gave Their All."
Larry Richards was thanked for providing the sound.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.