WATERVILLE — The commander of the Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post 5, Craig Bailey, looked upon a couple hundred military veterans and others who had assembled Friday for the annual Veterans Day parade and was hopeful that the crowd who assembled for the event would appreciate those who fought for democratic principles.

“You put that uniform on,” Bailey said, “and you are signing a contract to potentially give up your life.”

The American Legion post he represents has organized the parade every year since the 1920s. This year the parade went from The Elm on College Avenue and down Main Street, ending at Castonguay Square next to City Hall. More than 200 people gathered downtown to watch. Veterans representing each of the military branches participated.

At the square, Bailey introduced the day’s speaker, Ernest Paradis, who has been active in the Waterville American Legion for over 30 years.

Bailey said he likes to invite area veterans to come up and speak each year, rather than politicians. “It’s more from the heart,” he said.

Paradis spoke about the history of the holiday, known elsewhere in the world as Armistice Day, explaining that 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 is noted each year as when the first World War ended in 1918. Paradis reflected on growing up in Waterville and following the parade each year with other neighborhood boys on their bikes, trying to join in.

“Words can never express the debt of gratitude to our vets,” Paradis said. “But there is virtue in trying.”

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