On Monday afternoon the annual Memorial Day parade, sponsored by the Herkimer Veterans Council, began on North Washington Street in the village of Herkimer and headed down to Myers Park, where a ceremony took place.
Participants in the parade included members of the Herkimer Fire and Police departments, veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars, state Assemblyman Marc Butler, Herkimer County Legislator Gary Hartman, parade Grand Marshal Donald Buckley, Herkimer Village Trustees Katherine Nichols and William Markey, the Herkimer County dairy princess and her court, representatives from Herkimer County Community College, the Herkimer High School band and more.
During the ceremony Buckley, a veteran of the Korean War, made a brief speech.
“I speak for myself and for my comrades who are no longer here when I say, love your country, love your flag, God bless the troops and God bless the U.S.A.,” he said.
Sergeant Major Les Crossett said, “Today is a very important day. Forty-four years ago today I was drafted and it’s nice to speak to a sincere audience about past veterans and the future generation of veterans to come.”
In his speech, Crossett reminded everyone many men and women sacrificed their own lives so everyone can cherish the things they love. Crossett also told the story of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. While in combat Dunham and his comrades ran into an ambush, and Dunham used his own body to shield his fellow Marines. He was severely wounded by a grenade blast and died a week later from his wounds. “For his act of bravery, Dunham received the Medal of Honor, the first given since Vietnam,” said Crossett. “Dunham and many others gave their lives for the American core values.”
He added, “We need to remember that Memorial Day is not about picnics and parades, it’s about remembering those who made our way of life possible.”
Buckley and Crossett were presented with certificates of recognition for their participation.
During the ceremony the high school band played the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. Echo Taps was also performed by students Ben Stovall and Brian Hysack.
After the ceremony, the public was invited to the VFW for refreshments.
The Ilion Elks Lodge No. 1444 also honored fallen soldiers during a ceremony on Monday afternoon.
The names of the fallen soldiers were read by members of the lodge.
The introduction featured the Frankfort VFW No. 502 color guard as the flag was lowered to half staff, and to conclude the ceremony members of the Frankfort VFW performed a 21-gun salute as the flag returned to full staff. Crossett was also featured as the guest speaker in Ilion.