EAST GREENWICH--The town turned out in droves on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day and witness the annual parade in honor of the soldiers who have died in service to the country.
Crowds lined the streets beneath a gleefully warm and sunny sky from town hall to Academy Field well before the parade started at 10 a.m. Hawkers sold their wares and children and adults alike waved flags and celebrated the memory of lost loved ones and the sacrifice of community members and their families.
The parade was led by the “lone piper,” Aaron Lindo, whose bagpipe reveries were followed by members of the town council and school committee, who walked from Academy Field down Mawney Street to Main Street and town hall.
Of note was the ever-popular appearance of the Tomb of the Unknown float, a replica of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery, VA, which honors the ultimate sacrifice given by soldiers whose remains could not be identified and whose identities will never be known.
Highlights of the parade’s march included a solemn wreath laying ceremony and a recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by East Greenwich student Luke Simms of Our Lady of Mercy School.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” Simms recited to a hushed crowd, “but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us: that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The drummers of the Kentish Guards and members of the Varnum Continentals marched ahead of Boy and Girl Scouts from across southern Rhode Island. Antique cars and even a Captain America impersonator made the slow drive through town to the cheers of the crowds, and the local 4H Club, dedicated to advancing the potential of the community’s youth, made its first appearance in the parade. Local soldiers, police and firefighters made the solemn march in full regalia, alongside the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club which consists of active and retired law enforcement.
The National Anthem was sung by East Greenwich High School students Miguel Figueroa, Ross Simeral, Katrina Smith and Abby White. WWII veteran and longtime American Legion chaplain, Lucy Amat, gave a closing prayer, concluding the event with reverence.