Queen City honors fallen soldiers with parade downtownBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader May 29. 2018 8:32AM
MANCHESTER — From her seat at a sidewalk table outside the Portland Pie Co. on Elm Street, Vicky Rojas of Manchester said she had “the best view in the city” of Monday’s Memorial Day parade.
“You have to get here a little early for a table seat, but I never miss it,” said Rojas. “It’s a great crowd down here, and it’s nice to see so many people take time to remember their freedom isn’t free.”
Spectators lined the Elm Street parade route across many blocks, waving American flags, clapping and taking pictures as bands and floats headed south to Veterans Park. The parade route ran along Elm Street from Webster to Veterans Memorial Park. Jack Connolly served as the Grand Marshal.
“I’m proud to be mayor of a city that has a rich history of honoring those in our military, and a legacy of honoring the men and women of this community who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “The weather turned out great, and the crowd was really engaging with folks waving and saying thank you to our veterans. It’s exactly what we had hoped for.”
Molly Gagne, a representative of Henry J. Sweeney Post 2, walked the parade route, handing out poppies along the way.
“What a great crowd,” said Gagne. “I think we started with over 500 poppies, and they were gone by Hanover Street.”
Earlier in the day just a few blocks away, another festival of red, white and blue was happening at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, where staff from the Veterans Administration Medical Center handed out miniature flags to fans before a baseball game between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Hartford Yard Goats.
Representatives from the Manchester VA Medical Center were at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium for the Annual Honoring America’s Hero’s Welcome Home Game. A pre-game ceremony featured first pitches thrown by veterans representing each branch of service, and the National Anthem was performed by Gabriel Montoya.
Following Monday’s parade, a Memorial Day ceremony was held at Veterans Memorial Park. Speakers included Craig, Sen. Maggie Hassan, State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, and Manchester VA Director Alfred Montoya Jr.
“Memorial Day is a day to recognize the personal sacrifices of veterans and active military alike,” said Craig. “It’s a time to reflect and to honor. As the inscription on the base of the Arlington Confederate Memorial says, ‘Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, not lured by ambition, or goaded by necessity, but in simple, obedience to duty, as they understood it, these men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all and died.’”
During her remarks, Craig mentioned the many parks, bridges and schools across the city named for residents of Manchester who served their country, including Kalivas Park — named after Christos Kalivas, the first Greek-American from Manchester to die in World War I; Bronstein Park, named after Dr. Ben Richard Bronstein, who died aboard the USS Jacob which sank off Cape May in 1942; and Mullen Bridge, named after Corporal Bernard Mullen, who died in France a month after D-Day. Gossler Park School is named after Herman Gossler, killed in the Ardenne Forest in World War II.
“These men and women, and thousands of others, dedicated their lives to keeping us safe,” said Craig. “I hope these reminders, spread throughout our city, make it clear to you that our city is proud of those who serve. It’s important to remember, and to reflect, on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”