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 30 veterans returned for the Guilford Fire Department parade. Some chose to ride in cars 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 and the amplifier system projected all speakers voices to the enormous crowd. All could hear the beautiful voice of Paul Flores as he sang Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and all were asked to join in. Bruce Macumber, Guilford Fire Chief, honored all veterans past and present. Each veteran present was passed the microphone and gave their name, service and time served with the audience applauding each one, including one woman who served in the Navy in the Persian Gulf. As always an unforgettable scene, the wreath was placed on the Veteran’s Memorial by Kenneth Haynes, member of the fire department and a veteran. Bagpipes played by Eric Wilcox performed Amazing Grace and the color guard gave the gun salute. The Bainbridge Guilford Band members provided Taps. 6th grader Daniel Norris did a flawless excellent rendition of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address this year. All were awed by his performance.
The individual serviceman honored this year was James Patrick Weir, “The Captain who became a Private”, who was killed in Korea in 1950. He had served as an officer in WWII but, re-enlisted in the Korean Conflict as a private. His nieces, nephews and other family relatives (Wade and Weir families) 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. Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth L. Haynes was awarded a certificate deeming him the Citizen of the Year for 2009. 2008 Citizen of the year, David Hubbard presented Ken the award. Congratulations Ken.
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, who is also the new GHS president. 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. The attending veterans were asked to tell of their service time, service entered, when, where they served. Many were WWII, Korea and Vietnam. A few were in more recent wars and some were in peacetime. Present was one woman veteran, Sandra Jordon- US Navy 1975-1995, and Michele Gray-Air Force and Army in Kuwait was honored by her daughter Britney Spake. Michele could not attend the festivities due to work. Comments by many stated that “Guilford is where it’s at for Memorial Day celebrations and Laurene Richardt, from Unadilla stated that “Of all the Memorial Day celebrations in many townships and several states,” she and husband Charlie had attended, “This was the best.”
A special thanks to all who made this a memorable Memorial Day; the Guilford Firemen, the Bainbridge Guilford Band, the Ladies of the Guilford Methodist Church, the Klee House and members of the Guilford Historical Society Veterans Committee - Mary Ellen Parsons, Scott Parsons, Dave and Shirley Hubbard, Gertie Pierce Boyd, Tom Gray and yours truly 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.