On Monday, Nov. 11, a parade down Main Street culminating in ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Park began at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the official time of the World War I Armistice.
One hundred and one years ago, in 1918, after a long and bloody struggle, the Armistice was signed ending the hostilities. But what was celebrated each year as “Armistice Day” was renamed “Veterans Day” in 1954.
A huge crowd, including members of the Boy and Girl Scouts, their junior components scout leaders and parents along with local citizens, gathered at Veterans Memorial Park to honor veterans.
Members of the Warwick Police Department, the Warwick Fire Department and the Volunteer Ambulance Corps also participated with veteran members of VFW Post 4662 and American Legion Post 214.
VFW Post 4662 Commander John Mac Donald led the parade and then opened the official ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem sung by The Meistersingers.
He welcomed everyone and then read the poem, “It is the soldier,” by Charles Provence, which reads in part: “It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech,” and concludes with, “And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, spoke about the generations of veterans who served. “Today,” he said, “we thank them.”
Mayor Michael Newhard, who described military service as an act of love added, “The snippiest words for that are ‘thank you.”
In a tribute to all the youngsters in the crowd, American Legion Second Vice Commander Tom Brennan said, “Seeing all these kids gives me hope for the future.”
VFW Post 4662 Jr. Vice Commander Barry O’Neill gave a prayerful conclusion to the ceremonies, which quietly ended as Commander Mac Donald played Taps.
- Roger Gavan