Welcome Home Vets!
By Wilma Felton-Gray
The signs posted on Memorial Day in Guilford contained a double meaning. The first and foremost was to welcome home many of the veterans from all wars and services, that once hailed from Guilford back to their home town. The second meaning was to give our Vietnam veterans the homecoming they deserved albeit some 40 years later.
And what a homecoming it was! About 40 veterans returned for the Guilford Fire Department parade. Some chose to ride the float while others marched from School Street to the park. One rode his scooter and all were applauded heroically. The service following the parade was outstanding although the amplifier system seemed to fail in the wind. But, all could hear the beautiful voice of Paul Flores as he sang America the Beautiful. The Honorable Assemblyman Clifford Crouch’s speech honored all veterans past and present. Those now serving were honored and thanked for their service by Louise Butcher. It was an unforgettable scene as Kenneth Haynes, member of the fire department and also a veteran, dressed in his Naval uniform placed the wreath on the veterans memorial. In the background one could hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace performed by Eric Wilcox. 5th grader Taylor Palmetier recited the memorized Gettysburg Address this year. The individual serviceman honored this year was Floyd Gunnard Nelson who died in a plane crash near the Korean Peninsula in 1959. His wife, children, sister and other family relatives were present and received a special scrapbook from the Guilford Historical Society highlighting his life.
The best surprise came as the Guilford Citizen of the year was awarded. David Thomas Hubbard also a veteran of the Vietnam War was awarded a certificate deeming him the Citizen of the Year 2008. David hadn’t any idea and was standing in the color guard holding the American Flag when the announcement was made. As soon as he saw Ken Haynes coming to the rescue to take the flag, he knew what was up. Congratulations Dave.
After the parade many came to the church for a reception for the veterans. Coffee, tea, juice, pastries and cookies of all kinds were provided. Music of the 1940’s-50’s was provided by DJ Scott Parsons. The Guilford Historical Society had displays of photos of veteran service photos, plus scrapbooks of a collection of photo’s and newspaper articles of the boys who left Guilford for service in WWII. This is an on going project for the society to collect memorabilia and photos of servicemen of Guilford in any of the wars and peacetime.
Our veterans were asked to tell of their service time, service entered, when, where they served. Many were WWII, Korea and Vietnam. A couple were Desert Storm and some were in peacetime. Present were three women veterans, Ruby Crispell- Womens Marine Corp WWII, Sandra Jordon- USS Navy 1975-1995, and Michele Gray-Air Force and Army in
Kuwiat. Most said this was the best part of the reception, including the veterans. Millie McKie, sister of Floyd Gunnard Nelson provided an insight into the early years of Floyd in Guilford as his widow and children listened on. Mary Ellen Parsons also told of memories of Floyd and spoke of some of his classmates that remembered him.
Thanks to all who made this a memorable Memorial Day, the Guilford Firemen, the Ladies of the Guilford Methodist Church, the Klee House and members of the Guilford Historical Society who worked for months planning and organizing the event. A special thanks to all of the Guilford Veterans, not only for participating this Memorial Day, but for your past service to our country.
It was a beautiful day for memories to be shared and memories to be made as Guilford Veterans were welcomed home.