Communities across Western New York will be striking up the band to honor veterans throughout the holiday weekend.
The holiday will have special meaning this year in the wake of the Iraq war. Thursday, a group of 12 members of the 107th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron returned to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base after being deployed since October 2001; they had been in the Middle East since December.
The Town of Tonawanda and the Village of Kenmore will once again host the annual Memorial Day parade featuring units from veterans groups, fire companies, bands, floats, dancers, clowns and vintage automobiles.
The parade, which is the largest in the county, takes on a new meaning this year, said Carl Marranca, parade chairman.
"It's mainly for the troops coming back, and it's Memorial Day," said Marranca. "Last year, we dedicated the Memorial Day (celebration) to 9/1 1. This year, we dedicate it to Memorial Day and the troops returning." Marranca said there will be something for everyone at the parade, which will begin at 11 a.m. Monday and run south down Delaware Avenue.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2472, American Legion Post 205 and representatives from each branch of the military will be among this year's participants.
Here's a look at some of the events happening in Western New York communities over the holiday weekend:
Tillman Post 900, American Legion, and Post 3150, Veterans of Foreign Wars, will hold a memorial service at the J.A. Miller gravesite in Evergreen Cemetery at 7 a.m. Monday. The units will take part in flag raisings at 7 a.m. at the VFW and 7:15 a.m. at Tillman, and a parade at 9 a.m.
The Newcomb-Long Post 928, American Legion, will hold a parade at 10 a.m. Monday. The parade will file down Main Street.
The Council for Secular Humanism will sponsor a picnic to honor veterans at noon Monday in the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road. Hot dogs and refreshments will be provided at the event, which is free and open to the public.
Posts 60 and 1449, American Legion, and Post 897, American Veterans, will team up with the village to hold the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies Sunday. The parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Lake Avenue. A memorial service will follow the parade's conclusion at the Blasdell Library on Madison Avenue.
The town will host a parade at 2:15 p.m. Monday, featuring area Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2556 and American Veterans Post 219.
The plots of over 8,500 veterans'
graves will be decorated with American flags Monday, as the American Legion Erie County Committee holds its annual Memorial Day services. The services will be held at the American Legion Monument located in Forest Lawn.
The American Legion will hold its annual "Gold Star Mother's Mass," honoring mothers who have lost children in combat, at 4 p.m. Saturday. The service will be offered at Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, 180 George Urban Blvd.
Post 799, American Legion, will hold a memorial service in the Resurrection Mausoleum of St. Stanislaus Cemetery at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The town will hold its annual Memorial Day service at Colden Memorial Park, Route 240. The service, which begins at 8:45 a.m., will feature Rebecca Calhoun, a graduate of Springville Griffith Institute, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Kiwanis Club of Elma will hold its annual Memorial Day parade Monday. The parade, which begins at 9 a.m., marches to the Elma Town Hall, where members of the Elma Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a memorial service.
American Legion Post 205 and the Harry E. Crosby Post will host a memorial service Monday in Elmlawn Cemetery, 3939 Delaware Ave. beginning at 8:15 a.m.
The Town Line Volunteer Fire Company will hold the 46th annual community Memorial Day service on Monday. The parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. and move to the Town Line Lutheran Church, 1159 Town Line Road, for a brief service. The remainder of the service will be conducted at the Town Line Fire Hall, 6507 Broadway.
The Lancaster Veterans of Foreign Wars will host a Memorial Day parade at 9:30 a.m., starting at the Lancaster Senior Center, 100 Oxford St., and snaking down Oxford to Como Park Boulevard, to Lake Avenue and culminating in Veterans Park. Directly following the parade, members of the VFW will hold a short memorial service.
The American Legion Post 63 will host a memorial service at 10 a.m. Monday at 1540 Electric Ave.
The American Legion will host a memorial service at 10 a.m. Monday at LaSalle Post 1142, American Legion, 8643 Buffalo Ave.
The West Seneca Veterans Committee will host a Memorial Day observance on Sunday and Monday in West Seneca. There will be a service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday in Fourteen Holy Helpers Church, 1345 Indian Church Road. On Monday, there will be a service at the World War I monument at Clinton Street and Union Road. Following the service, there will be a parade running from Southgate Plaza to the West Seneca Town Hall.
George F. Lamm Post, American Legion, is sponsoring the Memorial Day parade through the village. The parade begins 2 p.m Monday at Williamsville South High School and continues west on Main Street.