WELD — The Old Crow Indian Band led a parade from the Town Hall to the library to kick off the annual Memorial Day observances Monday afternoon.

Sean Minear greeted everyone and gave updates on two construction projects at the library. When complete, the library will have a new entrance, new lights and a reading plaza.

The three monuments located on the library’s lawn were lifted. New bases were installed and they were leveled.

“Folks sitting on the plaza will have in front of them these tablets, which memorialize so many of our friends, family and neighbors,” he said. 

Minear said: “We gather to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country. Here in Weld, we pay tribute to the young men who left this town never to return. We are joined this afternoon by a large number of veterans. They, perhaps better than any others, can appreciate the loss that we are here today to honor.”

Selectman and State Rep. Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld, spoke of two important anniversaries:

The first was 150 years ago, when the first official Memorial Day was observed. On that day, James Garfield spoke to more than 5,000 people at Gettysburg.

The other took place exactly 100 years ago, during World War I. When the United States formally entered the war in 1917, it was not prepared to send significant troops into battle for a full year.

By the spring of 1918, Germany had secured its Eastern front and could devote its full attention to France along the Western front. On May 28, 1818, a day after  the French suffered a blistering defeat, 4,000 American Expeditionary Force soldiers launched their first sustained offensive and captured the German-held city of Cantigny.

“General John J. Pershing gave the order that not one inch of Cantigny was to be surrendered,” Skolfield said. “Over the next 72 hours, the Americans endured seven German counter attacks which resulted in over 1,000 casualties.”

That first major victory had a threefold impact on the war: It deprived the Germans of a very important observation point. It gave weight to Pershing’s argument that an independent U.S. command should be maintained apart from the joint allied command. And it provided a warning to the Germans that the Americans were not a force to be taken lightly.

“Remember those who sacrificed or are sacrificing for us,’ Skolfield said. “There are at least two Weld veterans serving overseas now.”

Martha Winter-Vining placed a wreath on the World War II monument, then taps and its echo were played.

Veteran Edmund Hutchinson raised the American flag, then Skolfield read a letter from the selectmen.

Hutchinson served in two branches of the military. He was part of the April 27, 2018, Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

“Your continued service to your community is well-recognized by your friends and neighbors,” Skolfield read.

Minear said, “I thank you here assembled for taking a part of your weekend to gather for this event so important to our civic life.”

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Memorial Day was observed Monday afternoon in Weld. Dozens of people gathered across from the public library to watch the parade led by the Old Crow Indian Band and the color guard, seen here. Sean Minear, at right, was the first speaker. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Memorial Day was observed Monday afternoon in Weld. Selectman and State Rep. Thomas Skolfield (R) is seen at right as he shared information about an important World War I battle that began on May 28, 1918. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

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