ST. ALBANS CITY — On an overcast Monday, area residents gathered with veterans, state and local leaders in Taylor Park to remember those who’ve fallen in service of this country.
It’s a remembrance that Marlys Lemnah believes shouldn’t be restricted to one day per year.
“Don’t just think about them on Memorial Day, they deserve more than that,” she said in her opening remarks during the remembrance ceremony, organized by the American Legion Green Mountain Post No. 1.
Well over 100 people gathered in the park for the parade and remembrance ceremony — an event that was severely diminished last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the names of local veterans who passed last year were read in addition to those who’ve passed this year.
Amid the second pandemic since the founding of the United States, Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, recalled William McKinley Mitchell, who died from Spanish flu in October 1918 while serving in World War I. Brock said Mitchell left behind a wife, a 3-year-old son and a 5-month-old daughter.
“That 5-month-old daughter was my mother,” Brock said.
Brock said Memorial Day is not a celebration, but a time to remember those who’ve paid the ultimate price. He noted that Vermont and Franklin County have borne a share of that burden, with 5,000 lost out of 34,000 sent to fight in the Civil War, 432 lost in World War II, 102 lost in Korea and 138 lost in Vietnam.
Brock said Vermont suffered more deaths per capita during the conflicts in Iraq than any other state.
“Each represents a life cut short; A future of promise unfulfilled,” he said.
Mayor Tim Smith noted that people who return from serving in the military share a common trait: “making our community a better place to live.”
“We go through our lives and we are all influenced or mentored by individuals in our community … I would say more often than not it happens without us being cognizant it’s happening,” Smith said.
He said the majority of those people in his life also chose to serve in the military.
“I ask you to take this Memorial Day to take this to a more personal level. When you have a spare moment, tae pause and think about those individuals who influenced you in your life,” Smith said, adding that he encourages residents to display the American flag “on all days, not just holidays.”
Katie Galuszka performed taps during the traditional ceremony, while Bella Bonasara performed the national anthem. Chaplain Roger Luneau delivered the invocation, prayer and benediction.