FARMINGTON – Rolling cloth stripes of red, white and blue on wooden sticks brandished by tiny tots along the parade route brightened up downtown Farmington on Monday, piercing the sunless air and giving the area a patriotic touch of color for its Memorial Day festivities.

Despite heavy rains over the weekend and drab drizzle forecasted through the end of the holiday, Mother Nature managed to hold back her chilly watery drops and make sure it didn’t rain on Farmington’s Memorial Day parade.

“America’s veterans are America. Hardship and glory they have known. America’s Veterans are Memorial Day. America is Memorial Day,” New Sharon resident Horace LaBree said firmly in his Memorial Day address at the Roderick-Crosby American Legion Post 28 of Farmington.

Highlighting the victories of the nation’s military since the days of the 13 colonies, LaBree spoke about veterans pulling back the heavy oars to carry George Washington over the river at Valley Forge, their efforts carrying out “the greatest deed ever recorded in the world” by toppling the Nazi regime in World War II all the way through their “quick triumph in Afghanistan.

“Around the world, America’s veterans have made their stand,” he said.

LaBree pointed out that soldiers, not reporters or politicians or priests, have given Americans the right to speak, the right to assemble, the right to choose their own religion. The coins of payment for the price of these rights, he said, is the blood and sweat of U.S. soldiers.

Afterward, a prayer was said by Post Chaplain Robert Stevens to bless those departed soldiers, the ones still fighting and to grant wisdom to those in power leading our nation.

The parade than fell into line, led by Sheriff Dennis Pike in patrol cruiser topped with pulsing blues. Other marchers included: the honor guard, members of the women’s Auxiliary, local emergency fire and medical responders and area boy and girl scout troops.

Despite the somber weather of the day and the mournful tone usually attributed to the holiday, the streets of Farmington buzzed with energy as notes blasting out of the tubas and horns of performers in the Old Crow Indian Band reverberated off the brick buildings of downtown and kids ran dizzily into the blocked-off streets to pick up candy tossed from floats.

The energetic feel of the parade dissipated as the procession pulled away from the commercial district and headed toward Riverside Cemetery. The somber service included Taps, a wreath laying, a firing squad salute and a reflective walk, with heads bowed, among the soldiers’ graves dotted with flags and medallions.

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