Veronica Straka, 6, holds her doll, Nellie, as she waits Monday for the start of the Memorial Day Parade in Skowhegan. Straka attended the event with her mother, Victoria, and grandfather, Richard Heinze. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Area residents enjoyed the sunshine Monday that accompanied the Skowhegan Memorial Day Parade, before they gathered at Veterans Memorial Park for a ceremony to honor those who died while serving in the military, and other veterans, including Steven Spaulding, who died unexpectedly last summer.

Spaulding was a key organizer of the parade in past years and commander of the American Legion Post 16. He cared deeply about his family and the American Legion, according to his wife, Ann Spaulding, who said local veterans were his second family.

Steven Spaulding was named grand marshal of this year’s Memorial Day parade, and Ann Spaulding rode in the parade while holding a photograph of her late husband.

“For him, it was about being kind and thoughtful, giving and generous,” said the Rev. Mark Tanner, who spoke at the ceremony in Skowhegan. “Steve would help anyone who needed it. He was a neighbor who treated everyone like he wanted to be treated.”

Spaulding served in the Marine Corps and died shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer last summer. Tanner described Spaulding as extremely generous and thoughtful, always looking out for veterans.

Ann Spaulding said she had asked her husband why he was never the parade’s grand marshal. He said veterans from earlier wars should be honored first.


“Unfortunately, he got his time, just a little too late,” Ann Spaulding said. “But he made it. He made it as grand marshal.”

Ann Spaulding said the experience Monday was “very humbling,” and Steven Spaulding would have said the ceremony was not just for him, but all veterans.

Tina Richard, a Navy veteran and the new commander at American Legion Post 16, said she knows she has big shoes to fill as she succeeds Steven Spaulding. Richard said she marches in honor of her uncle, who died at 21 years old in the Korean War, just three days before the armistice. Now, she said, it is important to ensure future generations understand the importance of military service.

“We do not forget. Whether it’s an hour ago or a century ago, we remember,” Richard said. “We honor the heroes of all wars, not just on Memorial Day, but through our daily commitment to ensure that America remains a place worthy of such sacrifice.”

Baseball players from Skowhegan and Madison ride and walk Monday during the Memorial Day Parade in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The parade in Skowhegan featured the color guard from American Legion Post 16, local police officers and firefighters, the middle and high school band and others. After Sunday’s scorching weather, Monday brought a clear sky and cool breeze to downtown Skowhegan.

Christine Stevens and Diane Downing drove in from Smithfield for the parade. They said they wanted to honor those in the military and see their 9-year-old grandson, who was in the parade with his baseball team, the Mariners, which went 9-0 this season.

Lyndsey Cook was also enjoying the spring weather with her sons Dustyn and Tucker. She said they come out every year, and Dustyn, 7, always looks forward to seeing the Shriners, while Tucker, 2, is just getting old enough to appreciate the celebration.

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