Hundreds gathered Monday to honor veterans at the Cooperstown Memorial Day Parade.
Members of the American Legion Post 579 led the parade followed by a car honoring the victims of 9/11. The parade featured the Cooperstown Boy Scout troop, the Cooperstown Central School marching band, and the local chapter of the 40 and Eight veterans’ organization, who rode in a float built to resemble a French boxcar. Also marching were members of the Cooperstown, Hartwick and Fly Creek fire departments.
Veteran, Doug Walker, who served on the Marine Corps for four years and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7128, said he wanted to remind everyone that Memorial Day is much more than a day for barbecues.
“We are celebrating all the men and women who gave their lives for this country,” Walker said.
Retired Marine Sargent Major Jim Peterson, of Fly Creek, spoke at the memorial service.
Peterson said that more than 600,000 American soldiers died during the civil war; 116,000 died during World War I; 405,000 died during World War II, 34,000 died in the Korean War; 58,000 died during in Vietnam and more than 6,000 soldiers have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said that the fallen soldiers are never to be forgotten.
Peterson also explained that Memorial Day began as a way to honor fallen Civil War soldiers and has been a tradition in our country ever since, even as the number of active duty soldiers has dwindled.
“The burden of sacrifice is on a small percentage of the United States population,” Peterson said.
These men and women are our neighbors, friends and relatives, the speakers reminded those in attendance.
“I am sure we would all know someone who has served our country,” said Barbara Duffy, of Cooperstown.
She said she goes to the Memorial Day Parade every year to honor the American veterans.