Millerton honors the fallen with Memorial Day ceremony

Webutuck School Band marches on Monday, May 27, celebrating Memorial Day in Millerton.

John Coston

Millerton honors the fallen with Memorial Day ceremony

MILLERTON — Main Street was lined with families and friends on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 in tribute to those killed in action.

The sidewalks were lined with folding chairs, strollers and leashed dogs checking each other out as neighbors visited, waiting for the parade.

Threatening weather delayed the parade for 30 minutes, and just as the sun came out and a breeze began to exercise the host of American flags displayed at Veteran’s Park by American Legion Post 178, The Webutuck School Band could be heard coming down Main.

Cheers broke out as the procession of musicians and fire and emergency equipment passed.

Ceremonies began as the Legion’s Sean Klay introduced Dr. Julian Strauss, who led with a prayer that remembered those “who have given their life to protect our freedom and preserve our nation.’

After a raising of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, Klay addressed the dozens assembled in Veteran’s Park and beyond.

“Today is the day we put aside to remember the fallen heroes and pray that new heroes will never need to die for us again,” Klay began.

“We owe those who never came home and their families a solemn promise that just as they did not forget their comrades, neither will we.”

Town Supervisor Chris Kennan and Village Mayor Jennifer Najdek provided a proclamation commemorating the solemn day.

Klay, a teacher and military historian, took the assembly back to April 1861, which marks the beginning of the American Civil War and a time when President Abraham Lincoln called for a federal militia to suppress the rebellion.

Klay recounted that the Governor of Minnesota volunteered 1,000 men, and how in due course those soldiers , confronting significant odds, marched to Gettysburg to confront a Confederate brigade that was five times bigger than their ranks. In the end, of the 1,000 that left Minnesota, 262 arrived in Gettysburg — and after the battle 42 remained.

“That’s an 82% casualty rate,” Klay noted.

Klay explained that Memorial Day ceremonies are credited to Civil War veterans, who started them in Millerton in 1887.

And he emphasized that “no other war comes close to the Civil War in terms of casualties” — when 750,000 men died. World War II ranks second, with about 100,00 fewer casualties.

Following a rendition of “God Bless America” by the Webutuck School Band, a bell was rung to recognize each veteran from Millerton who died in the line of duty from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terror.

Taps was played and Dr. Strauss followed with a benediction. And a few in the crowd wandered closer to examining the Battlefield Cross in front the Veteran’s Monument that had been recently spruced up by Townscape volunteers.

John Coston

Flags waved in the wind on Memorial Day, May 27.

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