Despite being ill and unable to attend Memorial Day activities in South Paris, Jim Taylor choked up with emotion while talking about the solemn occasion.

“Memorial Day is a tough thing for me to talk about because it means a great deal to all of us,” Taylor said Monday afternoon.

He’s the Americanism officer for the American Legion’s Foster-Carroll Post 72 in South Paris.

“What I felt about Memorial Day this year was that we should be out there in honor of our boys who’ve been in a war this year and to emphasize that we revere them today and for all time. We owe so much to those who have given so much,” Taylor added.

Joyce Clifford, president of the American Legion’s Stone-Smart Post 82 Auxiliary in Norway, echoed Taylor’s thoughts.

“Memorial Day means we honor our veterans that gave their lives so that we can live our lives like we do today,” Clifford said.

To others, like Joe DeFilipp of Rumford, Memorial Day “is a day of celebration for the deceased and people should acknowledge that.”

Veteran James Cobb of Bryant Pond waxed patriotic.

“I’m very proud of those that gave their lives so that we could live in a free country,” said Cobb at Memorial Day services in Bethel.

He also knows what service to one’s country means. Cobb’s great-grandfather, Llewellyn Heald, served in the U.S. Army’s 20th Maine Regiment at Gettysburg.

Cobb himself is a Korean War veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Army while two of his sons served in the Gulf War’s Operation Desert Storm and a third son is currently stationed in Germany.

“Events like this make me proud to be an American and proud to live in this country,” he added.

Richard Farren, commander of American Legion’s Mundt-Allen Post 81 in Bethel, took it a step further, noting that Monday’s ceremony went really well.

“Today, we’re honoring all the people who gave their lives,” Farren said. “That’s something we shouldn’t ever forget. And we should support our troops . . . and our president.”

Joseph Cooney of Norway, chairman of the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee, sees both past and future at Memorial Day activities.

“Memorial Day is that time to recognize the veterans that have fallen, and it also gives us time to think of what’s going to happen to the future veterans of America,” he said.

Some spoke of the day’s low turnouts.

Clifford said they had a small attendance, as did Cooney and George Jenkins, commander of VFW’s Lt. Robert Shand Post 1641 in Rumford.

“Memorial Day is about honoring the memory of all those who have given their lives ahead of us and for all those serving their country now,” said Jenkins. “I just wish to heck there was more people showing up for this.”

Avery Angevine of Bethel, a WWII veteran who served with the 9th Armored Division, and Robert Belanger, commander of American Legion’s Napoleon-Ouellette Post 24 in Rumford, both thought there were less veterans were out and about.

“It’s nice that we got this many people, but it’s getting harder to bring people together for marches. We’re getting old,” said 80-year-old Belanger.

But for youngsters like Erin Perry, Jerriah Edwards and Alyssa Fournier, the day meant fun parades and cool stuff happening.

“I liked the gymnastic part,” said 9-year-old Perry of Rumford, in noting a group of somersaulting girls who flipped their bodies up Congress Street during the parade.

For 5-year-old Edwards of Bryant Pond, the soldiers in the rifle squad “were cool and I liked it when they shot their guns.”

Fournier of Rumford, whose grandfather Edward Fournier served in WWII’s Philippines Campaign, thought the parade and ceremony at Memorial Green in the rotary “was nice to honor them like that.”

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