A bear of a parade: East Granby remembers fallen Vets on Memorial Day
By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead, 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
/ Published June 17, 2010
EAST GRANBY, Conn. -- What do East Granby town sports leagues, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, East Granby Fire Dept, Historical Society, Library Bookworms and a large black bear have in common? They all gathered Monday 31 May, 2010, in front of the Elmwood Cemetery on Nicholson Rd. to embark on a one-mile march across Route 20 to the East Granby, Conn. Town Green in observance of Memorial Day.
That is, once local law enforcement shooed a black bear away from Nicholson Rd., where the marchers were lined up.
Once the area was safe and secure, taps was the signal and the parade began. The 103rd Honor Guard lead the way and members from the 103rd Airlift Wing followed behind keeping cadence.
Before crossing Route 20, the parade was accompanied by a C-21 flyover from the 103rd, creating a concert of military involvement appreciated by spectators through cheers and accolades.
The parade then made its way down School Rd. to the East Granby Cemetery with spectators continuing their cheers for all the participants in the parade. Then a brief pause at the cemetery to lay wreaths at veterans graves while playing the Star Spangled Banner. Next stop, town green.
At the town green, guest speaker 1st Lt. Daniel Aloi, logistics readiness officer with the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, spoke about the significance of Memorial Day and the history behind it.
Originally called Decoration Day, said Aloi, Memorial Day officially began in 1868 but wasn't officially part of the American language until 1967.
As a side note, the East Granby Lions Club started to coordinate this very parade, one year later in 1968.
Aloi continued his speech referring to the revival of Memorial Day over recent history, attributing it to two events; The National Moment of Remembrance established in December of 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11.
"A nation flush with a new level of patriotism not seen since the first Gulf War supported the troops, their families and the military's leadership as they battled a new type of enemy--organized non-state actors, or terrorists," said Aloi.
For Janet Keough, president of the East Granby Lion's Club, this was especially true. She said she was so proud of what her dad did during the 8th Air Force's B-17 bombings on Germany while serving in the Army Air Core--and it means more now, especially after 9/11.
As a capstone to the day's events, First Selectman James M. Hayden and State Representative for the 62nd District, Annie Cornish, placed a wreath of remembrance on the East Granby Roll of Honor WWII memorial after the speech.
"I'm honored to be serving in a time when there is so much support for the military," said Aloi.
This support was self-evident for participants and spectators during the parade. So much so, by the hundreds of supporters that came out to the parade, the various organizations that participated in the parade and even that East Granby Police Department closing down a major route to have the parade, then braving the forces of nature by ridding the area of a black bear to protect the parade. All-in-all, East Granby gave it all for Memorial Day.