RUMFORD — Residents lined the sidewalks from upper Congress Street to the Rotary Memorial Green on Monday morning to watch the annual Memorial Day parade.

Despite a weather forecast that predicted rainfall, the clouds held steadfast as the Mexico Police Explorers led several groups of veterans and residents down upper Congress Street, where they crossed the Memorial Bridge over the Androscoggin River and stopped at the Rotary Memorial Green.

American Legion Post 24 Commander Tricia Thurston began the ceremony by telling residents, “May the ceremonies of today deepen your reverence for our departed friends and loved ones. Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag. Let us resolve, by word and deed, to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.”

Guest speaker John Hargreaves, the American Legion Department of Maine Commander, told residents that the “American Legion shares a commitment with us all by advocating for veterans and supporting military families through our programs.

“Remember those who are no longer with us, because they sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom,” Hargreaves said. “Americans must remember that freedom is not free. In fact, it’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price.”

Hargreaves, who served in the Army in Vietnam from October 1968 to December 1969 and has been active in the American Legion for over 30 years, reminded residents to think of the family members who lost their loved ones.

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“We are proud of our soldiers’ families, who have sacrificed so much, long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stopped exploding,” Hargreaves said. “The children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their children, who died way too early.”

Hargreaves also reminded residents that Memorial Day is not just honoring “those with the highest medals or those who participated in the most hellacious firefights. We honor the more than 1 million men and women who lost their lives defending America in wars ranging from the (American) Revolution to the global war on terrorism,” Hargreaves said.

In the final moments of his speech, Hargreaves told residents that Memorial Day was “not about beaches, picnics or auto races.

“It’s a day to remember,” Hargreaves said. “It is Decoration Day — a day to decorate the graves and memorials of our fallen heroes — and to remember. That is why we’re here. Let us remember, and let us pay it forward.”

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