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AYER — Christian de Marcken served as the grand marshal for Ayer’s Memorial Day parade and ceremony before Town Hall. While de Marcken is a Korean era veteran, de Marcken is clear in saying he “never fought a day in his life.”

Rather, de Marcken serves as the secretary for the Central Massachusetts Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Major Lamar Soutter Chapter XXII.

de Marcken relayed his memories of World War II, however, from a different perspective — as a resident of occupied France with parents who were active in the liberation movement.

“We forget that Hitler had already divided our country and promised very specific rewards to his soldiers for helping him win the war,” said de Marcken. He relayed a memory of a German airman pulling out pictures of a Wisconsin farm house, which was promised to him by the Nazi party.

“He knew how many acres, how many head of cattle, and how many tractors were on this farm,” said de Marcken. When the soldier was asked what would happen to the present owners of the American farm, de Marcken said the soldier answered matter-of-factly, “They will be my slaves.”

“Don’t ever forget that,” said de Marcken, who was accompanied on Saturday by his wife, Jeanne de Marcken, as he rode on a restored U.S. Army Jeep owned by Battle of the Bulge Army veteran Joe Landry of Shirley. Landry landed on Omaha Beach 18 days into the American landing in Normandy.

Sitting aside Landry in the front seat of the Jeep was another Shirley resident and Army veteran. Edward Zukowski stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

In December, the Consul General of France awarded Zukowski the “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur,” the Knight of the Legion of Honor. Zukowski’s brother, Joseph Zukowski, was killed a few hundred feet away from him as the Allied forces landed to liberate France and turn the tide in the war. The brothers were both members of the “Big Red One,” the First Infantry Division.

de Marcken expressed his gratitude for the American forces. “Please remember their sacrifices.”

Gold Star Mother Zelda Moore of Ayer rode in the parade. Moore lost her son, Douglas Moore, a helicopter pilot, right before his 22nd birthday in 1969.

Gold Star Wife Rose Brennan of Ayer waved to the hundreds that lined Main Street for the town’s annual parade. Brennan’s late husband, Thomas Brennan Sr., served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge spoke of his admiration for the town’s homage. “It shows the support the people of Ayer have for their veterans.”

Earlier in the day, American Legion Post 139 of Ayer visited the Woodlawn, then St. Mary’s Cemeteries for graveside services. Members James Lucchesi played taps on his bugle, while Charlie Jones sang “Mansions of the Lord.”

The stirring song, written in 2002, was sung at the 2004 funeral for late former President Ronald Reagan.

“To fallen soldiers let us sing / Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing / Our broken brothers let us bring / To the Mansions of the Lord / No more bleeding, no more fight / No prayers pleading through the night / Just divine embrace, eternal light / To the Mansions of the Lord / Where no mothers cry and no children weep / We will stand and guard though the angels sleep / Through the ages safely keep / The Mansions of the Lord.

Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.

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