An antique Dodge Power Wagon outfitted with United States Marine Corps decals, an American flag, and a flag honoring veterans of the Vietnam War rolls through downtown Waterville on Saturday as part of the town’s annual Veterans Day parade. Dylan Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — For Pearley Lachance, Saturday’s Veterans Day parade was much more than just a march down Main Street and a speech at City Hall.

To the 88-year-old veteran, it was another milestone in more than 20 years of work to identify the names of over 700 veterans, most from World War II, in and around Waterville who were buried without a proper military headstone.

“I’m doing the best I can do to honor all of those veterans,” he said. “Those debts will never be repaid. Our gratitude and respect must last forever.”

Beneath dozens of American flags waving from the lampposts, Lachance and about 50 fellow veterans symbolically began the parade at 11:11 a.m. Saturday, marking the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. Police escorted an array of pickup trucks, all-terrain vehicles and marching veterans through downtown Waterville, as roughly 100 onlookers applauded from the sidewalks.

Pearley Lachance, 88, delivers a speech Saturday to a contingency of veterans gathered at Waterville’s Castonguay Square. Lachance’s speech came after he and roughly 50 veterans marched through downtown Waterville during a parade organized by members of the Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post No. 5. Dylan Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

The families of veterans and Cub Scouts from Augusta, Waterville, Winslow, Windsor and Vassalboro joined veterans in the parade, waving flags and holding handmade signs thanking veterans for their service.

“It’s awesome and I’m having fun, even though it’s kind of cold,” said one Cub Scout, who gave her name only as Julia. “Plus we get to walk in the street, which is pretty awesome.”


Cub Scouts, troop leaders, and families of service members march through downtown Waterville on Saturday during the town’s Veterans Day parade. Walkers were carrying signs thanking veterans for their service. Dylan Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

The event is organized annually by the Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post No. 5 of Waterville. Craig Bailey, Post No. 5’s commander, said they organize the event to be a unique chance for veterans to recognize one another.

“It’s always been my goal to get a veteran who has served the community to be the guest speaker and talk a little bit about what it means to be a veteran,” Bailey said. “Many times when I’ve had discussions with Pearley, he’s always been kind of apologetic, saying ‘I haven’t done that much,’ but I know in this community, Pearley, you’ve done a lot by honoring our World War II veterans.”

Crowds gather, wave and applaud Saturday as veterans march on foot and ride on all-terrain vehicles through downtown Waterville as part of the annual Veterans Day parade. The event is organized by the Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post No. 5, with about 100 people attending this year’s parade. Dylan Tusinski/Morning Sentinel

The parade culminated at Castonguay Square, in front of Waterville City Hall. A troop of Cub Scouts recited the national anthem and Abby Stevens, Bailey’s daughter, sang a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

During his speech, Lachance recognized a number of veterans from Waterville and Winslow who were killed in action, including Master Sgt. Arthur Castonguay, Waterville’s first serviceman to die in World War I and the namesake of the park where the crowd gathered.

Though the event was organized to be an opportunity for veterans to thank veterans, Lachance ended his speech by offering the crowd a way to give their own thanks.

“Thank a veteran today,” he said. “Listen to their stories.”

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