Patriotism strong in Paris

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PARIS – Flags waved and patriots cheered as the town’s Memorial Day parade traveled from the courthouse to the cemetery, then on to the American Legion Post.

Families along the flag-festooned route watched the parade honoring those who served their country and those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Those being saluted ranged from World War II veteran John Titus, who, with Elsie Peclnik of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 72 Auxiliary, rode with Korean War veteran Onnie Raasumaa in his beautifully restored 1958 Ford Fairlane convertible, to Navy Ensign Jake Voth, who spent his first year of service in training at the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Titus has been a member of the American Legion for 62 years.

Voth, who carried the American flag in the parade, is on his way to Bremerton, Wash., to serve on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. In his first year of service he earned 72 college credits. His goal is to complete his bachelor’s degree by the end of his six-year enlistment.

Retired Navy veteran Sarah Glynn, Voth’s mother-in-law, also marched in the parade. She spoke highly of her Navy experience and credits it for her second career as an attorney.

Sgt. Hartley Mowatt was the grand marshal of this year’s parade. He serves on active duty with the Maine Army Guard Reserve in Augusta. Mowatt has just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. He is also a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm. Mowatt has served in the military for more than 24 years.

The parade was led by Harley Stevens of VFW Post 9787, accompanied by April Paine. World War II veteran Stevens displayed the Silver Star and the Purple Heart among his chest full of medals and ribbons. He earned his awards serving in Europe.

Other veterans marched, and there was even a bus from the veterans’ home carrying those not able to walk the entire distance.

Paris youth organizations turned out, too. While the junior high school band provided martial music, the South Paris Babe Ruth Team and Little League farm team marched along with students from the Bouchard Karate Academy.

Following memorial services at the cemetery, including an address by Paris town manager Sharon Jackson, the marchers were treated to refreshments at the Legion Hall.

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