The Alfred R. Grebe Post 1045 of the American Legion hosted its annual Memorial Day Parade and cookout on Sunday, May 29, 2016.
The festivities began early Sunday morning with the Foyle family laying a wreath at sea in honor of the departed veterans honored and remembered on Memorial Day. As everyone gathered at the Legion, the Fort Wright canon was shot off by Veteran John Ski with his wife Mary manning the plunger this year. The parade departed the Legion at noon for the Village Green, lead by State Trooper Kevin Drew and included the members of the Fire Department, EMT’s, island clergy and Fire District Commissioners.
Fishers Island Legion member Bob Brooks lead the ceremony at the Village Green. This included taps played by EMT Chris Dollar, prayers by Rev. Candace Whitman and Rev. Carl Eiriksson and special remarks by Veteran George Esser.
We are here today to celebrate the commitment that many of us made to support our great country.
In 1967, I volunteered to join the military service even though I had a solid deferment as an engineer with IBM. I spent two tours of duty in Vietnam as an officer in the US Navy Seabees. (For those of you who don’t know, Seabees stands for Construction Battalions.)
I was lucky that as a Seabee, our primary mission was to build, not to fight, although we were trained to defend ourselves and had many scary nights avoiding incoming mortar attacks.
As we all know, many young men have had their lives put off course, so to speak, after seeing the horrors of war. But in my case, it was quite the opposite. For me, serving was a growth experience.
Certainly the Vietnam War era was one of conflict, both abroad and at home. But, I think I experienced the best of what the military has to offer – an opportunity to lead a group of young, gung-ho, dedicated men (boys really – right out of high school) from all over this country – from Houston to Harlem – who had vital construction skills – moving dirt with heavy equipment, building runways, laying pipe, stringing electrical wire – anything needed to support our fighting comrades. They had jobs to do and did them with determination.
I’m proud to have served and lately have come to appreciate even more the bounty and hope this country has to offer. My advice to you is this – avoid the airport lines! Get in your cars and see America the Beautiful and get to know your fellow Americans!
We, as a people, have always been able to come together, no matter our political differences, and be one nation, under God, indivisible. And we will surely do that again despite today’s noise.
Happy Memorial Day. ~ George Esser, Retired, US Navy
The laying of the wreath in honor of Veteran Harris Parson was done by his son Harris and grandson Nate Parsons. Mr. Parsons interrupted his high school studies to join the U.S. Coast Guard at age seventeen. From 1942 to 1945, his military service included listening for U-boats as a sonar operator aboard a minesweeper on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic and patrolling on shore at Coney Island as a military policeman.
The ceremony concluded with a 9-gun salute lead by Veteran Joe Rogan with Veteran Tim Patterson, Veteran Elizabeth Burnham, and Luis Horn.
A cookout rounded out the afternoon at the American Legion Post 1045 with the leadership of Deb Doucette and help from volunteers of all ages. Volunteers included David Shillo, Constance Toldo, Molly Cypherd, AJ Eastman, Nicholas Hall, Elizabeth Clark, Jane Ahrens, Stefanie Hall, Christine Rogan, Seth Allan, JR Edwards, Pyrite, Lou Horn, Tim Patterson, Gail Cypherd, and John Doucette.
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