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Memorial Day Parade attracts Potsdam crowd

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POTSDAM — Stars, stripes and flashing lights shone down Market Street almost as brightly as the smiles on children’s faces as they vigorously waved flags at soldiers, firemen, police, veterans and other participants in Monday’s Memorial Day parade.

Rain didn’t stop a large crowd of people from lining the streets to watch the parade, which started at the Potsdam Central High School and went down Cottage Street and Market Street before ending at Ives Park.

Edward LaFay, a member of the Disabled American Veterans of Potsdam, drove ahead of the parade to pass out small flags to bystanders.

Following him were armed military personnel, Potsdam High School’s band, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the Potsdam Fire Department and Volunteer Rescue Squad and other fire departments from the area.

“It’s always amazing to me that we have this small but firm crowd,” said Stanley F. Crump, also a member of the Disabled American Veterans of Potsdam. “It’s very encouraging to see that the idea of patriotism is getting through to kids.”

Mr. Crump gave a speech during a memorial service in Ives Park after the parade.

“Some died violently, some of debilitating diseases, some died captive,” he said. “No matter the way or when, today we recall their heroism, their patriotism, their sacrifice.”

A wreath was tossed into the Raquette River to honor those who have died in the armed forces.

After soldiers shot off rifles in salute, Ivan Jukic and Abby Gruneisen, trumpet players in the Potsdam High School band, played Taps.

“We here today join with that mother and father and other families remembering their children — the children who left our shores strong and full of life only to return in a flag-draped coffin,” Mr. Crump said.

“We have parades so we can show everyone a public display of our willingness to dedicate a part of our day to honor the memory of the men and women patriots who have died protecting us from our enemies at home and abroad.”

In his speech, Mr. Crump said that he and other veterans dress in their old uniforms to remind themselves and others about the heroes they once served with. “They were warriors who wore these uniforms with pride because they represented the United States of America and the ideals that make us strong,” he said. “We honor their great sacrifice today and every day by dedicating ourselves to the preservation of the finest example of democracy in the world, our land the United States of America.”

Mr. Crump gave people the opportunity to walk up to the podium and say the names of loved ones lost in the line of duty and he led with his own list of names.

After a prayer offered by the Rev. James E. Barnes II, pastor of the Potsdam United Methodist Church, the ceremony was closed with the national anthem.

Members of the Potsdam Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4351 invited the crowd to join them for a barbecue at their 95 Market St. building after the service.

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