Londonderry Pays Tribute with Annual Memorial Day Parade

As another Memorial Day comes and goes through Londonderry, residents use the day as an opportunity to remember those who have allowed us to have the freedoms we take for granted every day, from our freedom of speech, to our right to bear arms, and even the free press.

And there was no better way to pay respects to the people and groups that protect these freedoms than during this year’s annual Memorial Day Parade.

Taking place on Monday, May 29, the parade drew hundreds of residents from across town to honor both the living and dead who fought for this country. Although an overcast sky initially seemed to threaten the parade, nothing more than a sprinkling came of it when the event commenced, even though more rain most likely would not have deterred either the crowd or the participants.

The parade started coming from the Londonderry High School, gradually working its way down Mammoth Road, with both young and old community members participating.  Members of the American Legion Post 27, who helped to organize the event, led the parade as they marched in formation with assault rifles at their side, followed by members of the Boy and Girl Scouts, Town Councilors, the LHS Lancers Color Guard and Marching Band, who played a variety of patriotic song, and more still filled the street as far as the eye could see.

Three stops were made during the event.  First, Post 27 made a quick stop by the Town Common, turning to observe several Boy Scouts lowering the U.S. flag to half-staff in observance of the holiday.

The parade soon continued down the road to Glenwood Cemetery, stopping at the gravesite of PFC Vern Greely, a resident of Londonderry who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Upon arriving to the grave, Bob Stewart, a Gulf War veteran and commander of Post 27 spoke to the crowd, thanking them for attending the ceremony while paying respects to Greely and others who gave their lives for our country.  Stewart was followed by Post 27 Chaplain John McCarthy, with a prayer for the fallen before the rest of Post 27 commenced a 21 gun salute. Taps was soon played throughout the cemetery and the Girl Scouts even placed a wreath at the grave of Greely, as is the custom every year.

The parade then proceeded to backtrack to the Town Common, where the crowd formed around the various war monuments that listed off the numerous Londonderry residents that have partaken in wars in the past.  Led to the center of the of the monuments by members of the Londonderry Police, Stewart and McCarthy were joined by State Representative Al Baldasaro, who came to pay his own respects and read off a declaration for Memorial Day that was signed by Governor Sununu.

Once McCarthy had recited another prayer and Boy Scout Reese Cameron placed a wreath at the foot of the Soldier’s Memorial, Stewart went on to make a much longer speech than earlier.  Constantly asking the question “Was it worth it?”, in reference to whether or not it is worth fighting and dying for this country, Stewart, brought up multiple example of fallen soldiers in the past, leaving behind children and family who most likely asked the same question.

Although he questioned the idea of others having the right to quantify someone else’s life, Stewart firmly believes that if we were to ask these fallen men and women, they would say that it was worth it, as it was something they wanted to do.  But as for those other than them who still ask this question, Stewart told them that they must “make it worth it”, stating that “we can make the country they died for a better place.”

As the parade came to a close, traversing its way to the resting place of the dead and a gathering spot for the living, one can only hope that those in attendance that day will take Stewart’s advice to heart and make our country something worth dying for.

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