On behalf of the members of Laurence W. Gay Post 55 of the American Legion, I would like to extend our thanks to all who were part of Groton's Memorial Day parade this year.
We extend our special thanks to our Grand Marshall, Capt. Richard LaBranche, director, Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., who brought the true meaning of Memorial Day home to everyone.
We also extend our special thanks to the Rev. Elea Kemler, minister of the First Parish Church, our chaplain for the day. Thanks to state Sen. Eileen Donoghue and state Rep. Sheila Harrington who joined us for the first part of the parade and spoke at the Sawyer Common before traveling onto other Memorial Day observances in their districts.
Our thanks go to the many veterans who joined us, including a number of "new faces," and to the many other veterans who were at the side of the road as we marched and rode by.
Our thanks go out to all the other participants in the parade: Groton Police Department, the Groton Minutemen Company, the drivers of the vehicles in our "motor pool" that transported those who could not march, our Board of Selectmen, the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the Cub Scouts, the Groton Marching Band and Chowder Society, and the Groton Fire Department.
Our special thanks to the Groton Minutemen for firing the formal musket salutes, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for the flag-raising detail at the Groton Cemetery, the Groton Marching Band and Chowder Society for playing "Taps" at the Groton Cemetery, and the Nashua Granite Statesmen Barbershop Chorus for their special music at the Groton Cemetery.
Thanks are also in order for our "support" functions: Groton Police Department for traffic control, the Nashua Valley Amateur Radio Club for sound system support at all of our parade stops, and the Laurence W. Gay Legion Auxiliary members for support with our post-parade refreshments.
Our final thanks go out to ALL who watched and applauded from the side of the road and/or the Groton Cemetery. As Capt. LaBranche noted in his remarks, your presence made you participants in Groton's Memorial Day observance and showed all veterans and their families that our community does not and will not forget the sacrifices that they have made for our great nation over the years.
A final personal note -- I've been running the Memorial Day parade for 16 years now and have made adjustments (hopefully improvements) over those 16 years in response to input from veterans and the community. While I think the Legion and I have done a good job, there is always room for improvement. If you have any comments or suggestions, please pass them on to me while they are still fresh in your mind. We will evaluate all input and make further adjustments in the future. We're already looking into replacing the sound system used at the cemetery and placing some tent signs publicizing the parade around town the week before Memorial Day next year.
You can leave a message on my Groton Veterans' Services Officer phone at 978-448-1175, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail your input to American Legion Post 55, P.O. Box 755, Groton, MA 01450.
Thanks again to all of you and we look forward to seeing you next year! Bob Johnson,