(June 3, 2022) — In case you missed it, here are some pictures, as well as the speeches, so that you may reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, a tribute to our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. In our town’s parade, we don’t have floats, and people don’t throw candy. We have veterans, scouting and other groups, Fife & Drum Corps, Haddam Volunteer Fire Departments, and it is a solemn affair, befitting the day. At the conclusion of the parade, on the Higganum Green, Rick Annino led the ceremony.
First, there was an invocation by Haddam Volunteer Fire Company Chaplain Seth Nuzum. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Next, the winner of the “What Memorial Day Means to Me” essay contest usually reads their essay. This year’s winner, 8th grade student Delaney Aronson, was marching in the Killingworth Memorial Day parade with the Haddam Killingworth Middle School band, so Mr. Annino read her essay to the crowd.
Three Shots to Remember
by Delaney Aronson
“Three rifle shots. One, two, three. Thunderous bursts of energy that shake the ground and beat within your heart. One shot, to honor those who have lost their lives fighting. Two shots, to honor those who have died after retiring from the armed forces. Three shots, to honor those who continue to fight in the battlefields today. Three shots to resume the battle after pausing to remove the deceased from the battlefield. Three shots given to honor the brave, the courageous, and the strong on Memorial Day.
“My dad, a retired man from the U.S. Armed Forces, died abruptly five years ago. He was a father, a husband, a brother, and a dear friend to many. At his funeral, I remember the three shots that rang in my ear. One shot, to honor his bravery. Two shots, to honor his courageousness. Three shots, to honor his strength. Nothing but silence in between each roaring bang.
“I imagine these shots at every military service. The rifle shots that ring in everyone’s ears. The ones that are fired to cause us to remember the brave, the courageous, and the strong every Memorial Day. To honor those who sacrifice to keep our country safe from harm. On the battlefield, they are without love, friends and family, but I hope they know that we hold them in the highest respect. That we care for them and love them just as if they were a part of our own nurturing family. And that we remember them in the three shots we’ve all heard before. The three shots that honor their bravery, their courageousness, and their strength.
“Three shots. The magical number some might say. All of the men and women fighting or who fought for our country have all three of these three traits and many more. These men and women are the most fearless people I know. Not because they have the guts to use guns or bombs, but because they have the bravery, courageousness and strength to leave their families and loved ones. The three shots at every military service are for these remarkable humans, for they are the ones creating a world in which the younger generation can enjoy with many opportunities. Three shots. One shot for bravery. Two shots for courage. Three shots for strength. Three shots to remember on Memorial Day.”
Then Gale Vallera Stekl, gave the Memorial Day address, which can be found here:
“My name is Gale Vallera Stekl.
“I was asked by my mother, Sandra Parmelee Vallera, to read a poem that was written by my grandmother, Mildred Foss Parmelee. My mom was going through some of her mother’s papers, and she found a poem that had been written by my grandmother. My grandmother was 16 years old at the time, and it was written as a school assignment, and the year was 1928.
“Before I read her words, I would like to tell you a bit about my family, and why her poem spoke to our family.
“On this Memorial Day you will hear the names of our soldiers who gave their lives for our country. They paid the ultimate sacrifice, one of those names is my great uncle, Erwin Clark Parmelee, Chief Carpenter’s Mate, US Navy.
“He was born on October 14, 1900, and died on November 30, 1942. Great Uncle Erwin was a chief carpenter’s mate aboard the heavy cruiser, the USS New Orleans. New Orleans was a lead ship in her class of seven heavy cruisers that collectively saw extensive service in all major engagements in the Pacific theater during WWII. She earned 17 battle stars, placing her among the top four highest-decorated ships of WWII.
“On the 27th of November, the New Orleans returned to action in the Solomon Islands, with four other cruisers and six destroyers. She fought in that battle and on the night of November 30, she engaged a Japanese destroyer transport force. The New Orleans was forced to sheer away to avoid a collision and ran into the track of a torpedo which detonated the ship’s forward magazines and gasoline tanks.
“The explosion severed 150 feet of her bow. Great Uncle Erwin survived the initial attack, and as part of the damage control parties, he helped sustain its ability to stay afloat. He lost his life in that process and was declared Missing in Action. He was awarded the Distinguished Navy Cross posthumously by then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He had been in the Navy since 1920.
“He was one of eight, he looked so much like my grandfather, who was also a carpenter. My grandfather would come to wed Mildred Foss and she and Erwin would become family. The words to her poem hit home as it was written 14 years before he became Missing in Action and to never return.
When Uncle Sam sent out his call
For soldiers brave and strong,
Many a young boy answered
Many were gone for long.
Some were sent with a blessing
Some sent to the front with a tear
Some with a kiss and a handshake
While others were sent with a cheer.
But the boy that long remembers
His mother’s last goodbye
Saw her there at the station
With a smile and a tear in her eye.
She vowed she would send her boy
To the front with a cheerful grin
Something for him to remember
When amid the filth and din.
In the cold gray dawn they gathered
A silent group so sad
To send him off on the first train
His mother, sweetheart and dad.
The train drew in and halted
His mother’s voice so clear
His dad’s final handshake
His sweetheart’s Keep faith, dear.
He never returned from that Hell on earth
But fell on that bloody ground
His girl keeps faith to this very day
To her lover beneath that mound.
“My grandmother went on to have five children, 20 grandchildren, and 36 great grandchildren, and I am not sure how many great-great, but what I do know is that the roots of this tree continue to grow and many are in this beloved town.
“My grandmother was incredibly proud of her history and one of her greatest joys in doing her lineage was to discover that she was a Daughter of the American Revolution. I have her certificate in my home and it is a reminder of my family history.
“I would like to end this very special day with our family roll call for those who served, and for those that are still serving.
Chief Carpenter’s Mate Erwin Clark Parmelee, US Navy, South Pacific
Edmond Vallera, US Army, South Pacific
Robert Vallera, US Army, D-Day, Utah Beach
Whitney Brookes, US Army, Korea
John Muzik, US Army
Waldo E. Parmelee, US Navy, Korea
Sebbie Cardella, US Army, Vietnam
Donald Vallera and his wife Amanda, US Army, Afghanistan
Joseph Parmelee, US Marine Corps, Persian Gulf
Linda Parmelee Fitze, US Air Force
Harold Parmelee, Army Corps of Engineers
Bradley Lenier, US Army, South Korea
“For all the names that you hear today, behind every one of them was and is a family that loved them and continues to do so, but most importantly, they lived and they matter, and they all have stories.
“Thank you and have a wonderful day. May it be filled with family and love and memories.”
After the Memorial Day address, four veterans placed the wreaths on the monument while the names of the war dead were read. Right after the wreaths were laid, there was a 21-gun salute. Taps was played by two trumpeters from Haddam Killingworth High School, Andrew Fleig and Alexander Battistoni, followed by the National Anthem played by the Haddam Killingworth High School band. A moment of silence was held, then the ceremony was concluded with a benediction by HVFC Chaplain Seth Nuzum.
The video of the parade and ceremony can be found HERE in case you missed it.
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