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Addison County has a deep history honoring veterans

ADDISON COUNTY — Towns all over Addison County — and Brandon — this coming weekend will honor the memories of those who gave their lives in service of their country with not only parades, but also post-parade ceremonies.
Those Memorial Day ceremonies will include traditional readings such as “In Flanders Fields” and President Abraham Lincoln’s stirring Gettysburg Address; music provided by school groups, bagpipe bands and fife-and-drum corps; prayers; and guest speakers who offer historical context and meaning for the day of memory.
Middlebury ceremony organizer Ken Perine explained why those who come to the parade should not just pull up stakes and head back home when the last fire truck, Boy Scout Troop and classic car has gone past.
“Why should people go to the ceremony? Because Memorial Day is more than a parade,” Perine said. “It is remembering those who served our country with their lives, a constant reminder that the freedom we enjoy has come at a cost and that we must be vigilant to protect our freedom in the future, a small way to honor and remember.”
Middlebury’s ceremony on the steps of the Town Hall Theater offers a template.
It will include the Seth Warner Fife & Drum Corps playing the United States’ first national anthem, “Chester”; the Middlebury Union High School band playing the national anthem; the St. Andrew’s Pipe Band offering “Amazing Grace”; Middlebury Police Chief Thomas Hanley speaking on the meaning of the day; a Mary Hogan School student reading “In Flanders Fields”; and American Legion Post 27’s Honor Guard presenting a wreath and saluting deceased veterans.
That ceremony follows a parade that gets under way at 9 a.m. at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Arts Center and follows the traditional route north on Main Street and around the village green to the soldiers’ monument at the top of Merchants Row in front of Town Hall Theater.
Veterans, bands, floats, politicians, Shriners, antique cars and more will follow that route, and many of them will head a dozen miles north at the conclusion of the Middlebury parade to Vergennes.
For those on the east side of the Green Mountains (but still in Addison County) participants in Hancock’s annual parade will gather at the firehouse. A parade featuring fire and rescue equipment, more veterans, and anyone else who wants to join in will begin marching at 10 a.m.
The parade will proceed around the town green, which features the town bandstand. Marchers will continue up Route 100 to the main Hancock Cemetery near the intersection with Route 125. Some of the components of the parade will then head south to Rochester for that town’s cavalcade.
CITY PARADE
Meanwhile in Vergennes, American Legion Post 14 organizes Vermont’s largest Memorial Day parade every year. This year’s theme is “Now and Forever, We Remember,” and Bristol Legion Post 19 Commander Ron LaRose (pictured, right) will serve as Grand Marshal. LaRose served his nation in the U.S. Army and Vermont Army National Guard for 39 years and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
As always, the parade starts at Vergennes Union High School at 11 a.m. and winds its way along Monkton Road and Main, South Maple, Victory and Green streets until it reaches and the city green, where the post-parade ceremony will be held.
The parade will include an even larger mix than Middlebury’s of floats, farm equipment, classic cars, fire trucks, bands, Shriners, politicians and more; and Post 14 will also stage its annual chicken barbecue on the green following the parade and ceremony.
At the ceremony, Fort Ticonderoga Curator Matthew Keagle will serve as the keynote Speaker. Keagle is a Vergennes resident who has spoken on the subject of 18th-century military history across the U.S., Canada and Europe, and holds a number of degrees. Keagle’s talk will focus on the conditions, sacrifices and struggles of the 18th-century military in this area, and how events in that era shaped today’s lives and freedoms.
ORWELL EVENTS
Before those Monday events, Orwell will honor the memory of those who served with its traditional Sunday afternoon parade. The town’s 46th annual Memorial Day Parade will line up at 12:30 p.m. on North Orwell Road and step off at 1:30 p.m. Former Orwell Bank President and State Representative Mark Young will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal.
The Catamount Pipe Band has confirmed its 20th consecutive appearance, and the 45-minute parade also typically features American Legion color guards, local Shriners, the Fair Haven Union High School band, plenty of old and new classic cars, and veterans from many service branches.
The parade route runs east on Main Street from North Orwell Road before turning onto Church Street, circling Roberts Avenue, and bending back west onto Main Street. The parade concludes with a ceremony on the town green.
BRANDON ON MONDAY
The Brandon Memorial Day parade will again this change its traditional route because of downtown construction on Route 7. Organizer Jeanne Lamarre, Brandon American Legion Post 55’s treasurer, said this year the parade will gather at 9:30 a.m. at the three-way intersection of Park, High and Marble streets and at 10 a.m. head directly to the downtown monument.
New Post 55 Commander Bert Reynolds, also the Post historian, will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal and also open and close the ceremony that follows the brief parade with prayers.
A GROUP OF first-grade girls in white dresses clutch bunching lilacs in their small hands and walk in single process around the Brandon Civil War monument during the 2018 Memorial Day activities in Brandon.
Brandon Reporter file photo/Lee J. Kahrs
The Legion Post Color Guard and other veterans will march, and joining them will be the Otter Valley Union High and Neshobe Elementary school bands, who will both also play at the ceremony after the parade.
Neshobe second-graders will lay flowers on the monument during the ceremony, and Neshobe students will read traditional selections.
Lamarre said she hopes that many Brandon-area residents will take a little time to honor the memories of those who gave their lives for their country by attending a parade and ceremony that she expects will take only around a half-hour.
BRISTOL WRAPS IT UP
Finally, on Monday afternoon LaRose will return to Bristol to help lead a parade and ceremony in the county’s second-largest village.
“Bristol’s Memorial Day event was designed not to interfere with the Vergennes parade,” said LaRose, who added Vergennes organizers have made provisions to help him leave the city in time to meet his obligations in Bristol.
LaRose described Bristol’s affair as “a small parade,” including the Post 19 Color Guard, Mount Abraham Union High School band, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little Leaguers, fire trucks, and Bristol police leading the procession.
The parade will begin on Airport Drive at the entrance to Mount Abraham, at 1 p.m., and then head east on West Street to the town’s central park.
LaRose will emcee a ceremony from the village bandstand. A wreath will be paced on park’s Veterans Memorial and LaRose was last week arranging to have Vermont National Guard officer to speak at the event, but he said details were not yet available as of the Independent’s deadline.

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