by Tom Walogorsky
On Monday, May 29, the Town of Pawling gathered for the annual Memorial Day parade and remembrance ceremony. The morning was cold and rainy, but the weather could do little to dampen the spirits of participants and onlookers.
The festivities began as the parade procession took shape outside Utter Brothers Feed Supply and then made its way to Charles Coleman Boulevard. The formation was led by a combined color guard from the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police. The color guard was specially chosen to lead the parade as a tribute to the dedication and service to the community by law enforcement. More than 100 participants marched, including veterans from each branch of the military, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and the Pawling High School band. In addition, two engines from the Pawling Fire Department joined the procession.
The day’s inclement weather did not deter the crowd of nearly 150 who gathered outside businesses on Charles Coleman Boulevard seeking shelter under umbrellas and awnings. The parade ended at Veteran’s Memorial Plaza on the village green, where the town gathered for a remembrance ceremony. Standing in front of the three memorial monuments, American Legion Sergeant at Arms Lou Musella commenced the ceremony. Mr. Musella, a Navy veteran, expressed his gratitude to the crowd for showing their support under less than favorable weather conditions. He also spoke about the importance of keeping the town tradition alive, stating, “There will always be Memorial Day in Pawling.”
The event was then turned over to the Master of Ceremonies, Trinity Pawling COO Glenn Carey. A lifelong resident of Pawling, Mr. Carey is also a former mayor. He began by speaking of the history of Memorial Day, with its origins following the Civil War through its official recognition as a federal holiday in 1971. “Memorial Day is a day where Americans pause to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, and to remind ourselves that freedom is never free. It is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their service and life in defense of our nation and way of life,” Mr. Carey said.
The ceremony was concluded by a reading of each name on the memorial plaques honoring fallen veterans from the town of Pawling. Each serviceman from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam was honored with the placement of a poppy flower by a member of the local scouting community. Ceremonial wreathes were then placed in front of each monument, and the half-mast American flag was raised to full staff. In addition, the American Legion placed a ceremonial empty chair to honor POW/MIA soldiers.
Following the conclusion of the ceremony at Veteran’s Plaza, the observance moved to the Hasler-Kamp Post American Legion cemetery plot. There, Sergeant at Arms Musella led a group of scouts to place poppy flowers on each gravestone for the veterans buried there. A rifle salute from the veteran’s color guard detachment served to end the day’s events.
In spite of the weather, the Memorial Day parade and remembrance ceremony was a noteworthy success. Participants, attendants, and members of the community came together to show the importance of honoring our veterans. Lou Musella summarized this spirit, saying, “Pawling is a special community. I'm sure we can all agree that it is the people of Pawling that make it special.”