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Arlington commemorates Memorial Day with annual parade, ceremony at cemetery | SlLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — The crowd at several Arlington Memorial Day ceremonies gathered in the hundreds despite an unusually heavy rainfall on Memorial Day, May 28.
Ominous clouds moved overhead before the downtown Arlington parade began at 10 a.m., and raindrops slowly increased in size and speed until a steady downpour fell over both the crowd and the many who gathered to march.
Boy Scouts held a banner for the local Arlington chapter of the American Legion, Post 76, and were followed by the Legion’s Color Guard, Arlington High School Naval Junior ROTC, the AHS marching band, local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and World War II veterans.
Locals gathered on the sidewalks of Olympic Avenue — appropriately decorated with American flags on each lightpost — to watch the parade and to pay respects to fallen soldiers.
Following the parade, spectators gathered at the Arlington Cemetery at 11 a.m. to honor those who gave their lives in combat.
“We will always remember them because this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Chaplain Keith Reyes during a prayer. He stood among hundreds of flags placed throughout the cemetery by the American Legion members and volunteers who raised them earlier that morning.
“For some people, Memorial Day is just one of the federal holidays that brackets the summer months,” said VFW speaker Jeff Weinstock.
“Our fallen soldiers didn’t fade away. They were simply forgotten,” he said. “They sacrifice family, friends and often their lives for their country.” Weinstock spoke of the tendency to forget the importance of the holiday, and how some people view Memorial Day as a time to barbecue, go shopping or get a three-day weekend. He used the ceremony to express the true meaning of the day. “Memorial Day is to honor those who were killed in war,” he said.
The crowd of hundreds who gathered at the cemetery were soaked with rain as they gave a salute to those who served and followed in a closing prayer by Rich Barron, who ended with “God bless America.”
The Arlington High School marching band completed the ceremony by performing “Amazing Grace.” The number of people who participated in the ceremony even with the stormy skies impressed Post. Cmdr. Daniel Wyttenbach of Post 76.
“Look at the turnout and look at the weather,” he said, gesturing the crowd and the sky. “These are some seriously patriotic people in this community.”
Following the Arlington Memorial Day service, they held a Civil War memorial service at noon. After that, Arlington Legion members conducted another Memorial Day service at the Darrington Cemetery starting at 2 p.m.