By Chris Barber
PARKESBURG -- The people of Parkesburg paid tribute to members of the military who gave their lives for America with a parade and community get-together on Sunday afternoon.
The event was held a week before the traditional Memorial Day weekend because organizers felt that many people leave town at the end of May, and there would be more spectators at mid-month.
The speaker at the service at the borough firehouse was Edward Fisher, who served in the U.S. Army for 27 years and now represents LEEK Hunting and Mountains Preserve, a non-profit organizations that helps wounded service men and women.
He praised the spectators from Parkesburg and other small towns, saying that places like theirs is where patriotism lives. “You live and breathe the Constitution,” he said.
He said he has been to may places in the world and has seen many embassies where people form long lines for blocks to get visas to come to America. “There’s nobody in line at the Egyptian or Russian embassies,” he said.
Fisher also praised veterans of all American wars.
He gave special recognition to World War II veteran Jesse Thomas of Parkesburg, who sat behind him on the stage. Thomas is the sole surviving member of the team that raised the flag on Okinawa in 1945.
Fisher said the intervention by the USA in World War II changed the world. He also spoke specifically about the veterans of the Vietnam War, who got no celebrations and tickertape parades when they returned.
He said that for veterans who were injured and their families, everyday is Memorial Day. He urged his audience to get involved in organizations that help wounded warriors, because there are many of them around still fighting their battles to recover.
Finally, he told the young people in the audience to study history and learn from it, for not to dooms them to repeat the same mistakes.
The event began on Main Street with a brief ceremony there, and then the parade moved around down to First Avenue to the firehouse. The parade included scouts, antique cars, fire trucks, borough officials and the Octorara band.
During the firehouse ceremony, the band played several Sousa marches and the school’s chorus the “Star Spangled Banner” and other patriotic songs.
A color guard shot a 21-gun salute at the beginning of the parade and the end of the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, VFW Post 4480 of Parkesburg held an indoor picnic for the residents at its headquarters.