KENNEDY - After all the wet spring weather, the skies cleared and the sun shone bright on Kennedy for the Memorial Day parade and service in Riverside Cemetery.
Wreath bearer Robert Swanson once again led off the parade with dignity. The Randolph America Legion Post 181 Firing Squad/Color Guard came next. Master of Ceremonies George Fuller, Jr. walked the parade route, followed by cars containing veterans of the town. Speaker for the service, Richard Hoglund, rode next. Kennedy Fire Department Queen Kristen Sholl and Kennedy Fire Auxiliary Queen Ashley Scott graced the procession next, followed by Chautauqua County Dairy Princess Katie Carlson and her court.
Falconer school students carried the historical flags, with George and Martha Washington close behind. The Falconer Central School Marching Band, under the direction of Jeffery Camp, played patriotic numbers as they marched along. Clergy for the services, Pastor Jennifer Delahoy of the Kennedy First United Methodist Church, and Pastor Michael Herdzik of the New Beginnings Baptist Church, braved the heat and humidity and walked the parade route, to the delight of the spectators. Cars carrying soloist Burke Lindquist, readers Ruth Rowley and Donna Dort, County Clerk Sandra Sopak and District 7 Legislator Robert Stewart followed the clergy. Town officials riding in the parade were Town Supervisor Jim Cooper, Councilwoman Sandra Tompsett, Councilwoman Kathy Stanton, Councilman Norm Gustafson, Highway Superintendent Larry Mee, Justice Judy Shields, and Assessor Dennis Stornes.
Wreath bearer Robert Swanson salutes after the placing the wreath at the veterans’ memorial in Riverside Cemetery.
P-J photo by Rose Mary Carver
The honored guests this year, carried in the beautiful white carriage from Cracker Jack Farms, were Fred and Nancy Shelters, and Ed and Sheila Hoene. Both couples have been very active in the community, and organizers of the observances were glad to select them for this honor.
Several groups and individuals had floats or banners. Uncle Sam made and appearance in the parade, portrayed by Frank Rock. Several members of Kennedy Pride walked with their banner. Darla Rissel, Bonnie Mead, and members of their family walked in Civil War era styles. LaRoy's GR 8 goats had a float that included some very young kids, both human and animal. Several youth ball teams marched. The Town of Poland Recreation committee helped children decorate their bikes to ride in the parade. Don Holt brought a couple of antique tractors to the parade, and many classic and antique cars were driven by for all to admire. Local gymnasts had a float to ride and perform on.
Not only did the Kennedy Volunteer Fire Department have several pieces of equipment in the parade, but several area departments participated as well. Mutual aid is not just for emergencies. Representatives from Falconer, Frewsburg, Gerry, and Randolph came with equipment to help residents celebrate and remember this important holiday.
Enthusiasm carries to many different interests. Both the Southern Tier Riders Motorcycle Club and the Red Knights Chapter 9 rode bikes in the parade. Not only motorized riders like to parade. Several horses were decked out in holiday finery, as well as their riders, to bring up the rear of the parade.
As the parade ended at the cemetery, residents gathered to remember those who have sacrificed for their country. Master of Ceremonies George Fuller, Jr. welcomed everyone to the service, and introduced all the County and Town officials, the honored guests, and chairman of the Memorial Day committee, Terry Walker. The Falconer Central School Band played the National Anthem, then Travis Jordan led the Pledge of Allegiance. Pastor Michael Herdzik then gave the invocation, noting that it was personal for him because of his relatives who have served the country in the past. He called for God's blessing on the country, and guidance for the future. Fuller then gave a history of Logan's Orders, which was then read by Colleen Kimball.
The band followed with a patriotic tribute. Children of the town then placed flowers at the memorial for fallen soldiers, along with George and Martha Washington, portrayed by Rick and Joan Swanson. Emily Hatfield gave a stirring recitation of the Gettysburg Address.
Following an introduction from emcee Fuller, keynote speaker Richard Hoglund, a retired minister, gave his address.
"And so we meet in this time to remember our inheritance. I call it an inheritance because we were given this freedom by the sacrifice of so many men and women and children that we might be free, that we might be able to stand here and have this service, that we might go to our homes and enjoy that freedom, and enjoy the picnics and enjoy the weather. It's a time of remembrance when we count the conflicts. We start with the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada. And now, in distant lands, like Iraq and Afghanistan, in places where it is hard to pronounce the names, our men and women are sacrificing again."
Burke Lindquist followed the speaker with a solo. He sang a rendition of the patriotic classic, "God Bless the USA."
Following the music, Ruth Rowley read a roll call of all the wars Americans have been involved in. Donna Dort then read a roll call of veterans in the town of Poland who have answered the final call since last Memorial Day.
Robert Swanson placed the memorial wreath at the veterans' monument with all due solemnity and honor.
Fuller asked any active duty personnel to be recognized. Pastor Jennifer Delahoy gave the benediction. The Salute to the Dead was called for, and the Randolph Legion Post members fired volleys, followed by Brandon Caruso playing "Taps."
Robert Swanson then raised the flag from half-staff. Mr. Fuller thanked all for attending. He gave some more facts about Memorial Day to help everyone to truly understand what this day of remembrance means. He reminded everyone that a Flag Retirement ceremony would be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 15 in Hallquist Park. Anyone who wishes may have their flags honorable retired at this event.