Down Main Street paraded scores and scores of children, parents and community groups under a cloudless sky on a flawless Memorial Day morning.
The parade, for which flag-waving residents lined both sides of the street, started at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, continued to Town Hall, and finished down at the Lakeview Cemetery. It was led by New Canaan brothers and war veterans Forrest and Russell Kimes, and the Grand Marshal of the ceremony was businessman and veteran John McLane.
The parade marked the culmination of the YMCA's Guides and Princesses program. Each of the father-son and father-daughter tribes named after Native American tribes marched along, often demonstrating their own chants or calls. Behind all of them marched the Staying Put New Canaan contingent, which delighted the crowd by making their own chant as well: "We are Staying Put, the mighty, mighty Staying Put."
Father and son Scott and Elliott Knopf, of the Apache tribe of the YMCA Guides, said walking in the parade was a good experience.
"I'd never been in it before, it was fun," the elder Knopf said. Elliott was a bit shy, but shook his head vigorously when asked if the parade was, indeed, fun.
The Roscoe family said seeing the veterans in uniform were a highlight. One of the boys, Tom, said his favorite part of the parade was the fire trucks.
At the ceremony held at the cemetery, the police and fire departments were dressed in their finest uniforms on either side of the lectern. A color guard stood behind the speaker and an honor guard shot off three shots into the air.
In his remarks, McLane, who served three years in Vietnam, recalled a conversation he'd had with his father, a veteran of World War II, on Memorial Day 1969. The two men sat watching baseball on television and discussing their experiences at war. He said he was luckier than his dad because he got packages and mail from home regularly. His favorite items were hot sauce and lemonade powder, because it made the food edible and the water drinkable, he said.
Both officers, he and his father shared the questions they dealt with during and after the war.
"What could I have done better? Was it OK that I came back when so many didn't?" he said. "That day, my father was not my dad, but my brother."
McLane went on to explain the importance of the sacrifice soldiers have made for the benefit of the country.
"When they died, they gave up the possibility of holding a baby in their arms, of playing catch with their son, of walking their daughter down the aisle," he said. "Let our words and prayers be not reserved for this one day."
At the end of his speech, the familiar first notes of "Taps" wafted over the crowd. Many stood at attention and all were quiet, even the children, as the song played.
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