WATERVILLE — Waterville Mayor Karen Heck told a gathering at Veterans Memorial Park on Monday that she was happy to see so many young faces in this year’s Memorial Day parade.
In recent years, said Heck, the grand marshal for the city’s Memorial Day parade, there were not so many children taking part in the ceremonies.
And young faces there were, both marching in the parade and cheering from the sidelines along the parade route from Head of Falls to the park on Elm Street
“We’re celebrating the people who died in the war; my grandfather died in the war,” said 10-year-old Mickayla Crowley, of Waterville.
Her friend, Jayllyn Ouellette, 11, said she remembered “Pepe, Uncle Kenny and grampy, my grandfather,” all U.S. military veterans.
That’s the way it was all along the parade route Monday: patriotic music played by the high school and junior high school marching bands, old soldiers and young soldiers riding, walking and watching.
And families waving flags and remembering the fallen heroes of foreign wars.
“I’m remembering lost friends,” said 58-year-old David Nevedomsky, of Winslow, who served three tours of Vietnam and was wounded in a bayonet attack in hand-to-hand combat. “There’s guys that I lost; there’s guys who didn’t come home.”
Farther along the parade route on Front Street, U.S. Army Pfc. Jeffrey Spann, of Belgrade, who is home on leave, said Memorial Day for him is a day to remember all of America’s heroes.
“I’m remembering all of the veterans,” Spann said. “I’m just here in support of all the veterans who have done their part for the country.”
Nancy Flewelling, of Augusta, secretary and treasurer of American Legion Riders Post 5 in Waterville, said she was handing out small American flags, in part, to remember her father.
“I’m remembering my father, Eugene Bergeron,” Flewelling said. “He was a veteran from 1952 to 1974. He was in Vietnam twice and did a stint in Korea. He was a river rat in Vietnam, river patrol. He was in the Navy. He passed away in 2006. I miss him.”
Heck and state Sen. Colleen Lachowicz, of Waterville, who also spoke Monday, reminded those in attendance after the parade Monday that Memorial Day originally was called Decoration Day when flowers and other decorations were placed on the graves of soldiers killed on both sides of the Civil War. In the 20th century it became a day to honor all men and women who fought and died in wars.
Heck’s message Monday also pointed to the continuing need to honor soldiers returning from America’s current wars by providing them with moral support and the best medical and psychological care possible.
“What I really hope we will be able to do in the coming years is to remember and really think about the best honor we can bestow on people who have been fighting and that would be to make sure they get the benefits they deserve when they come home,” she said. “What I hope we all will do is make sure that the soldiers who are still fighting can come home to the benefits and support that are theirs, so they don’t have to fight for them. We all need to help people heal when they come home.”
Doug Harlow — 612-2367