Families lined Rolfe Street and Park Avenue Friday for the city’s Veterans Day Parade. The parade returned to the city last year after a 20 year hiatus and drew a large group for the …
Families lined Rolfe Street and Park Avenue Friday for the city’s Veterans Day Parade. The parade returned to the city last year after a 20 year hiatus and drew a large group for the occasion.
“That crowd today was absolutely unbelievable to come here and honor our veterans,” said Mayor Ken Hopkins, during the speaking program following the parade.
Everything from fire trucks, antique cars and military vehicles paraded up Park Avenue, down Hayward Street and through Rolfe Street. Veterans, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and elected officials waved to families and friends while Cranston East and West’s bands provided music and cheerleaders and dancers entertained the crowd.
Following the Cranston Color Guard, 101-year-old Don Mellor led the parade as the Grand Marshal. Mellor is a World War II veteran who was stationed in the South Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Hopewell where he worked as a fire controlman. Hopkins shared that in selecting a grand marshal, the city looked for a great contributor to the City of Cranston who has served the country in times of need – this led to Mellor. Hopkins thanked him for his service.
The program’s emcee, Michael Traficante, who served with the Third Infantry Division in Korea, reflected on the importance of holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day. While Veterans Day is intended to thank all veterans for their sacrifice so individuals can continue living with vast freedoms, rights and privileges, Traficante said in his opinion so many Americans have lost their connection with their proud history and the true purpose of celebrating both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“Unfortunately, those rights, those freedoms and those privileges are frequently taken for granted by many Americans without giving a thought to the selflessness, the sacrifice, the courage and the dedication to duty those brave patriotic souls who have served and continue to serve this great nation of ours,” said Traficante.
He thanked Hopkins for encouraging and preserving the event adding that the one way to keep America great is keeping America grateful for its veterans.
Father Joseph Craddock of Pawtucket’s Holy Name Parish provided the invocation – honoring the living and deceased veterans for their selfless service in protecting America and praying to watch over veterans’ families.
“On this Veterans Day, let us also pray for our deceased veterans – in a special way all those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and never made it home. We honor them and respect them for that sacrifice and the contributions they’ve made to America’s victory over tyranny and oppression,” said Craddock. “May their graves be a reminder to all of us today and every day that freedom is not free, and be a solemn reminder to all of us of the need for peace in our world.”
Marissa DiBiase sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” with Cranston East tenth graders Adrian Rosales and Lindsay So playing “Taps” during the laying of the wreath.
Traficante thanked Blue Moon Pub for donating the ceremonial wreath, the Gaspee Days Committee for borrowing the portable stage and Deputy Chief of Staff Paul McAuley and Constituent Affairs Director Gina Capuano for organizing the parade as well as all other city employees who made the day a success.
“It is the American soldier who salutes the American flag, who serves the American flag, whose family sacrifices for the American flag and whose coffin is often draped with the American flag that allows the discontented and protesters of this country the right to burn the American flag,” Traficante said. “That beautiful flag of ours does not fly or wave because the wind moves it. Our beautiful flag flies because of the breath of each soldier who served this country, protecting it.”