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Memorial Day a solemn but special time in Belmont

Members of the Charles G. Kilborn American Legion Post 58 led the Belmont High School band, as well as Scouts, police and firemen, down Main Street on Monday for the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 01, 2011
BELMONT — Whether you remember it as Decoration Day, or have always known it as Memorial Day, the gratitude and respect for servicemen and women who have died is still the same.

To pay tribute to those residents of Belmont who served the nation, a parade in their honor made its way along Main Street Monday, stopping before the war memorial on Church Street for a brief ceremony.

Robert Stevens, Commandant of the Charles G. Kilborn American Legion Post 58 in Belmont, led the ceremonies, which began with the raising of the flag by Vice-Commander Woodrow Fogg and Leonard Hooker, Adjutant. Post Chaplain Father Boucher then led the crowd of onlookers in prayer, remembering both those who served the country in both the past and the present.

"Those in uniform now are with us in our hearts, as well as those who have gone before," Boucher said.

Stevens then took the podium to say Memorial Day is a time to honor all fallen soldiers.

"They were our heroes. Our fathers, husbands, brothers and sisters…we could never repay them, and they would never ask," said Stevens.

He asked that people pause to remember those who are still missing in action, along with the men and women of the police and fire departments who also give freely and willingly of their time to keep everyone safe in communities all across the United States.

Stevens then read the names of 19 veterans from Belmont who had died over the last 20 years. As he finished, Legion members Steve Bracy and SFC David Scroth rang a brass bell 19 times in their honor.

Girl Scouts, Brownies and Daisy troop members from the town walked a short distance to the bridge, where they tossed memorial flowers into the Tioga River, followed by Girl Scout Kelly Hayes, who laid a wreath before the monument.

Music for both the parade and the ceremony was provided by Belmont High School's marching band, led by director Ray Craigie for the final time this year.

Craigie is retiring at the end of the school year after 28 years of leading his band through Memorial Day parades and other community celebrations in not only Belmont, but surrounding towns as well.

In gratitude for his years of devoted service to the American Legion's Memorial Day ceremonies, Stevens called Craigie forward to present him with a plaque.

"We've been so lucky to have a band like this to work with," he told Craigie as he thanked him for the respect he and his band have shown to those who have served the country.

As a new feature in this year's ceremony, BHS graduates Leland Clark, Adam Segelstrom and Middle School student Asher Clark then sang a harmonious rendition of "God Bless America." Following that tribute, they asked the crowd to join them in the singing of "America the Beautiful."

Completing the day's events, the Legion also dedicated a bench in honor of their former chaplain, Fred Livingston, before leading the parade of scouts, fire, police and servicemen to the Belmont Mill, where flags were also raised.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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