CONCORD —Local residents bowed their heads in remembrance of fallen soldiers during two Memorial Day parades on Monday.

The day's events started at Rideout Field on Laws Brook Road at 9 a.m. Town officials, local veterans and community groups marched up the road to the intersection with Commonwealth Avenue.

The parade stopped to pay tribute the Percy A. Rideout Playground, named after a World War I hero who was born in Ashburnham and who lived in Concord before giving his life in 1918. It stopped again at Sgt. Kenneth J. Dunn Square, named after the Concord resident who was killed on Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theatre of World War II in 1942.

Concord Minute Men members, from left, John Arena Jr, Doug Ellis and Philip Swain fire historic rifles during Concord’s Memorial Day ceremony at
Concord Minute Men members, from left, John Arena Jr, Doug Ellis and Philip Swain fire historic rifles during Concord's Memorial Day ceremony at Sergeant Kenneth J. Dunn Square.

The parade regrouped at 11 a.m. on Keyes Road to march up Main Street to Monument Square, where local veterans placed wreaths at the memorials for those who died in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Dominican Civil War and the Iraq War.

Both parades featured ceremonies lead by Rob Norton, a chief warrant officer for the Army National Guard. For both ceremonies, Norton introduced Concord Select Board Chair Michael Lawson, who gave a speech to the attending public.

"Memorial Day is our chance to remember," Lawson said. "Our history has been shaped and made possible by those who have served and those we have lost. I hope you will keep our military men and families close to your heart."


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The ceremonies at the Percy A. Rideout Playground and the Sgt. Kenneth J. Dunn Square both featured the raising of an American flag, with the first raising done by local resident Lara Speer and veteran Buzz Nichols while the second raising was done by Chief Master Sergeant Cory Frommer and veteran Bob Windheim.

Both parades featured drum and flute performances by the Concord Minute Men. Three members of the Minute Men, John Arena Jr., Philip Swain and Capt. Doug Ellis, also fired historical rifles into the air to punctuate the placing of wreaths at the Sgt. Kenneth J. Dunn Square and Monument Square.

Chief Master Sergeant Cory Frommer, left, and local veteran Bob Windheim salute the flag after it was raised at Sergeant Kenneth J. Dunn Square during
Chief Master Sergeant Cory Frommer, left, and local veteran Bob Windheim salute the flag after it was raised at Sergeant Kenneth J. Dunn Square during Concord's Memorial Day Parade. (Jon Winkler / Lowell Sun)

Music was also a reoccurring feature of the day's ceremonies. Local resident Piper Harring sang the National Anthem at the Sgt. Kenneth J. Dunn Square and Kirk Brunson played bagpipes during the second parade. The musical highlight of the day was when the attending crowd joined together to sing the National Anthem and "God Bless America" at Monument Square.

Members of the younger generation also showed their support for the fallen heroes. Local Girl Scouts led the procession for the veterans in both parades while local Boy Scouts guided the marches of town officials and Concord's Honored Citizen, Di Clymer.

Concord resident and veteran Maynard Forbes at Concord’s Memorial Day Parade. Forbes said three 90-year-old veterans at one of the days ceremonies
Concord resident and veteran Maynard Forbes at Concord's Memorial Day Parade. Forbes said three 90-year-old veterans at one of the days ceremonies "made me feel young." (Jon Winkler / Lowell Sun)

Even for those not involved in the parade, families with small children populated both ceremonies and showed respect to the men and women in uniform. As Concord-Carlisle High School Senior Maiya Bowen read the Roll of Honor at Monument Square, the crowd remained in respectful silence.

Maynard Forbes, who was a full colonel in the military from 1958 to 1982, has participated in nearly every Memorial Day Parade for the last 40 years. Now in his 80s, seeing the crowd attend and pay respect to his fallen comrades reassured him that people see the day more as the conclusion of a three-day weekend.

"They understand the meaning of the holiday," he said. "It brings them out to remember and it's a time to remember. I like to come out and be among the younger people that have served. In the West Concord service, however, we had three 90-year-old veterans and I told two of them that they made me feel young."

Jon Winkler: jwinkler@nashobavalleyvoice.com