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Hampden anounces plans for annual Memorial Day Parade

Date: 5/24/2010

May 24, 2010.

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN -- Memorial Day is a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered nationwide. The town of Hampden will once again be honoring its fallen veterans with a parade and ceremony, this year on May 31.

"This day is about remembering those that gave the supreme sacrifice for our country," Art Booth, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9397 in Hampden, said. "We're paying homage to our fallen soldiers."

The annual Memorial Day Parade, sponsored by the VFW and the Board of Selectmen, steps off at 10 a.m. from St. Mary's Church on Somers Road and continues into the center of town, where a memorial service will take place featuring a colorguard, a guest speaker at noon, a flyover of F-15s and the playing of Taps.

The featured speaker at the memorial ceremony this year is Air Force Major Donald Gomes of Westover's 439th Airlift Wing.

The parade itself will include the Minnechaug marching band, contingents of Boy and Girl Scouts, youth sports teams, the Board of Selectmen and members of the clergy.

"The kids get a flavor of what Memorial Day is all about by participating," Booth said. "It's a solemn holiday, not a big celebration like the Fourth of July."

John D. Flynn, chair of the Board of Selectmen, said the day and the veterans memorial in the center of town, dedicated in 1920, has always been a special part of Hampden.

"We have always honored our soldiers," Flynn said. "Hampden has always been such a close-knit community, so we always remember those we have lost."

In addition to the parade and ceremony taking place on May 31, new American flags will be placed on veterans graves on May 29. Following the ceremony on Memorial Day, the fire department will host its annual Hot Dog Social and the police department, its Ice Cream Social.

Groups interested in being a part of the day's events are invited to contact Art Booth at 566-8481 or the Hampden VFW at 566-8797.