Gallery: Glocester remembers, honors those who died in service at annual parade & ceremony

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Members of the Glocester Light Infantry fire a cannon from the top of Acotes Hill in salute of fallen veterans. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Bands played, soldiers marched, flags flew and the annual Glocester Memorial Parade stepped off in style, led by Vietnam War veterans Walter Keach and David Ducharme, and Korean War veteran Richard Mende, 92, who kept pace the entire route from the Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church to Acotes Cemetery via Putnam Pike.

The Glocester Memorial Day Parade proceeds down Main St. in Chepachet. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

The parade included the Ponaganset Middle School and High School bands, members of Troop 44 Boy Scouts and Harmony Pack 6 Cub Scouts, along with Town Council President William Worthy and Councilor Walter Steere, and members of the Glocester fire departments. The route was lined with well wishers and spectators who cheered and clapped as participants marched through the center of the village, halting at various spots, including the William Garret Schanck Bridge, to remember fallen veterans.

Right, Richard Mende, a Korean War veteran, leads the way, along with Vietnam Veterans, from left, John Vellucci and Walter Keach. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

Garret, a 1966 PHS grad, died during the Vietnam War. He was a Marine 2nd lieutenant and infantry platoon commander, who was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his heroic actions. The helicopter carrying his patrol was shot down, killing everyone aboard during the course of a firefight in 1969.

“May his memory serve as a reminder of the true cost of freedom and inspire us to live our lives with the same sense of duty and honor that he exemplified,” Recreation Director Robert Shields told those assembled at the bridge to honor his loss, including his brother Jeff Schanck, a lifelong Glocester resident.

Members of Glocester’s fire departments marched in the Memorial Day Parade. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

A wreath was tossed into the Chepachet River in his honor. Other wreaths were laid at the Town Hall memorials honoring Korean, World War I and II and Vietnam soldiers who gave their lives in the service of this country, along with the Thomas Dorr Memorial at the foot of Acotes Hill.  Chepachet Union Church pastor Michael Coburn led prayers at the various sites for those who died.

The parade ended at Acotes Cemetery with a brief presentation. Shields, who organized the event, reminded those in attendance to not forget the sacrifices made in order to keep America free and safe in every war this country has had to participate. Those soldiers who fought and sometimes paid the ultimate price were fueled by courage and fortitude, as well as an unwavering brotherhood, he said. In doing so, they suffered immensely in so many ways, he added.

Glocester Recreation Director Robert Shields, who organized the event, addresses those assembled at Acotes Field. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

“Their heroic acts have paved the way for us to live in the liberty we too often take for granted,” said Shields. “Most remarkably, our fallen patriots personified a code of honor that transcended the physical realm. They were icons of integrity, beacons of moral righteousness in conduct. Duty was a calling that superseded self-interest.”

“Let our thoughts become vivid panoramas of the heroic deeds and sacrifices by Glocester’s sons and daughters that shaped our modern world,” he added. “Their memories are forever etched into our heritage- perpetual emblems of honor, sacrifice, and patriotism.”

Coburn reminded listeners that freedom isn’t free.

“This day we enjoy and every good thing we enjoy comes at a cost, doesn’t it,” said Coburn. “There are places around this world who do not enjoy the peace we enjoy today. There are many places around this world where people do not have the right to peacefully gather as we do today…all these things come at a great cost.”

One thing the people being remembered today would feel good about, he added, is that, “the people they love and serve would be able to enjoy peace and joy and blessing because of their service.”

The event was culminated by members of the Glocester Light Infantry firing a cannon from the top of Acotes Hill, followed by taps, played by Ponaganset band members Nicholas Olszewski and Jack Rockwell.

Richard Mende, a 93 year old Korean Vet and Cub Scout Gus Spencer stand quietly as taps is played in front of the WW I and II memorials in front of the Glocester Town Hall. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin
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