Honor and Remember at Vergennes Memorial Day parade and ceremony

VERGENNES — The annual Vergennes Memorial Day Parade and Observance is set for Monday, May 30. The parade is sponsored each year by the Vergennes American Legion Post 14.
The parade will start at Vergennes Union High School beginning at 11 a.m. Marching music will be supplied by the Vergennes Union High School Senior and Junior bands, the Middlebury Union high and middle school bands, the Vermont Pipe Band, the Hannaford’s Fife and Drum Corps, the Vergennes Union Elementary School Band, the Ferrisburgh Central School Band, the Cairo Temple Patrol and Drum Corps and the Mount Mansfield Band of Jericho.
Also marching will be the Vergennes, Weybridge, Ferrisburgh and Charlotte fire departments, as well as fire departments from farther afield. In addition, the parade includes Boys and Girls Clubs, the Knights of Columbus, a number of floats, antique cars, Poppy Girls, and honor guards from the American Legion and the Essex Junction Veterans of Foreign Wars. Gov. Peter Shumlin, local politicians and officials from the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion will also march.
Following the 2-mile parade, an observance will be held at the bandstand at the Vergennes City Park. It will begin with the playing of the national anthem by the VUHS Senior Band led by Susan O’Daniel. The Rev. Tim Taylor, pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Waltham, will lead the prayer, and Vergennes Mayor Bill Benton will give the welcome.
Navy Corpsman Spencer Norton will then decorate the Vergennes monument. The monument was erected in honor of Admiral Thomas Macdonough, who was responsible for building the fleet that helped U.S. forces defeat the British at Plattsburgh during the War of 1812. Upon winning that battle, the Americans took full charge of Lake Champlain.
Vergennes Union High School junior Alyse Beauchemin will give a reading of “In Flanders Fields.”
The observance will, for the first time, include a song written by Legionnaire Tom Leonard, titled “Cemetery Heroes.” That will be followed by the annual reading of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address. This year it will be delivered by VUHS junior Brandon Cousineau. The VUHS band will play “A Tribute to Vermont,” and then speaker George Jaeger of New Haven will take the podium.
Jaeger, a native of Austria, was a private first class during World War II who crisscrossed Europe several times before being assigned to Gen. Patton’s Third Army. “The war was about over, and we knew it,” Jaeger says. Soon after the signing of the surrender, he was released from the Army and eventually joined the U.S. Foreign Service as an officer.
The services will conclude with a moment of silence. The local unit of the Vermont Army National Guard will render a rifle salute to our departed veterans, and legionnaire Jim Lanpher will play taps. The Rev. Yvon Royer, pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, will say the closing prayer.
After the observance, all are invited to the American Legion for a chicken barbecue dinner under the tent.
Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Henry Broughton of the Vergennes American Legion.

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