Seekonk Honors Fallen Military with Parade & Ceremony
After several days of rainy weather, the sun came out on Saturday, May 27 for Seekonk’s annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony to honor veterans who lost their lives fighting for our country. Families lined the streets of Arcade and Newman Avenues to watch the parade which began at 10 a.m. at Seekonk High School. Participants included the Seekonk High School marching band, the Bristol County Fife and Drum unit, Police and Fire Department Bagpipers, a calliope band organ from Worcester Sound & Lights, Scout troops, youth sports teams, several antique tractors and fire engines, and more. The parade marshal was Ralph Travis who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed on a Navy ship during the Korean War.
After the parade, more than a hundred people gathered at the Seekonk Veterans Memorial for the ceremony. The high school marching band performed several selections before the ceremonies began. Veterans’ Services Officer James LaFlame served as master of ceremonies. The National Anthem was sung by retired Providence Police Officer Luis Del Rio.
Speakers included Selectman and Parade Chairman David Viera and State Rep. Steve Howitt. Seekonk resident Margie Rieske, whose brother was a Vietnam veteran and died last year, read a poem she wrote as a tribute to him and other veterans. Fire Department Chaplain John Amaral gave the benediction. “We are so honored today to remember the brave men and women who have given their lives throughout the history of our great nation,” Amaral said.
Viera, who has chaired the Memorial Day parade committee for 39 years, said that many young people today tend to forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. Memorial Day is often thought of as the beginning of summer, or a holiday for getting together with family and friends for a cookout. He said it was up to us to make sure our children know what Memorial Day is all about.
“What Memorial Day is all about is those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country so we can enjoy a beautiful day like today,” Viera said.
Howitt said it was one of the largest turnouts he’d ever seen for the parade. He said today was a day to remember the veterans who lost their lives. “As long as we keep remembering them, their memory will not die and therefore they will never die,” Howitt said. “Let’s hope we have no more wars so there will be no more names on this beautiful memorial in Seekonk,” Howitt said.
LaFlame read a proclamation from Governor Charlie Baker and asked everyone to remember the men and women who are currently serving in the military as well as those who gave their lives in the fight for freedom.
“Let us remember all those deployed today, They are far from home but close to our hearts. Let us salute them and wish for their safe return. Let us pause to reflect upon the sacrifices of all who have fallen in service to our country,” LaFlame said. “Let us make Memorial Day every day by never failing to honor the men and women who gave their all . . . Their sacrifice will serve as the staunchest of warnings to our enemies that we shall never abandon the cause of liberty,” LaFlame added.
To close the ceremony, Seekonk High School Band Director John Smialek played “Taps.”