The Town of Fairfield celebrated Memorial Day 2019 with its annual parade, with a theme honoring Military Reserves and National Guard.

Thousands of residents cheered along the Post Road and Old Post Road from South Pine Creek past the Town Hall Green, in a sea of red, white and blue, in a united show of thanks to the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.

The parade stepped off at 10 a.m. sharp, led by the Fairfield Rotary Club/ Homes for the Brave, followed by a Fairfield Police Escort Radio Car; Honor Guard; Fairfield Warde High School Band; Parade Chairman Tom Quinn (Commander American Legion Post 143); Master of Ceremonies Richard J. Miller, Lieutenant, US Navy; Parade Secretary Betsy Browne; First Selectman Mike Tetreau; Selectmen Chris Tymniak and Ed Bateson along with elected officials including State Sen. Tony Hwang and state representatives Brenda Kupchick, Laura Devlin and Cristin McCarthy-Vahey. Lt. Col. Thomas Armas was the keynote speaker.

“Every year, the Memorial Day parade in Fairfield is one of my favorite events,” said Tetreau. “The parade brings together thousands from our community, young and old. It is imperative for our young people to interact with veterans, ask questions, hear their stories and understand their sacrifices so they can continue the American tradition of living with a deep gratitude and appreciation for how our soldiers and veterans make our freedom a reality. The Memorial Day parade is significant because it represents the deep meaning of service and sacrifice.”

The parade, broken into three categories - the Red First Division, White Second Division and Blue Third Division boast hundreds of high spirited participants, including Navy Veterans, CT Army National Guard, active duty military personnel, Captain Roger Crossland, USN Retired; Police honor guards, Army Ranger Ronald Burke, and military service dogs.

“Absolutely American,” said Hwang. “The Fairfield Memorial Day parade is one of the best in Connecticut for its indelible spirit and community participation. Most importantly, it allows us to express and pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed for the freedom and security we enjoy as Americans. As President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Pat Carroll, a World War II veteran, former Fairfield Police Captain, and Master of Ceremonies for the parade for nearly two decades, said “Memorial Day, to me, is a day for one to remember, give thanks and say a prayer for the veterans who are no longer among us.” Carroll lost friends and family, many of whom are buried, “in a quiet family plot along the Mill River in Oaklawn Cemetery. Take a moment and visit a nearby cemetery - gaze upon the field of flags decorating the graves and honoring the veterans from the many wars and conflicts our country has been involved in over the years. Nod your head, say a short prayer and say thank you.” Carroll served from 1943-1947 and retired to the Reserves in 1979 with a rank of Lt. Colonel.

Kupchick said, “A big day in our small town! Fairfield’s Memorial Day parade always brings me back to my childhood - marching with the band in elementary school, marching along my son as a Mom and today as an elected official, representing my hometown. It was an incredible honor to walk along side veterans memorializing the brave who paid the ultimate sacrifice to a grateful country in front of a grateful community.”

“One of my favorite things about celebrating Memorial Day in Fairfield is that we stop to remember the fallen who died to preserve the many freedoms we enjoy,” said McCarthy-Vahey. “From the parade to the Sea Memorial and school assemblies with our veterans, we remember the reason for this holiday is to recognize those men and women who paid the ultimate price.”

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem was performed by the Fairfield Ludlowe High School Band; the Invocation by Josh Feay, executive pastor at Black Rock Church; the Address by Col. Tom Armas, USMC; America the Beautiful by Fairfield Ludlowe High School; benediction by Rev. Thomas Simisky, SJ, president at Fairfield Prep; Volley by American Legion Lt. Owen Fish Post 143, and Taps byFairfield Ludlowe High School.

Veterans representing the American Legion Post 143, Post 74, Post 9427, Post 143 Poppy Queen, Disabled American Veterans Fairfield Chapter 19, middle and high school bands, dance teams, floats, antique cars, sports teams and scouts participated in this spirited annual memorial event.

“Our Memorial Day was the perfect day for our parade,” said Tetreau. “It was great to see so many in our community come together to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. It is a day that is rich in memories of parades over the years and memories of those that are not with us today. Special thanks to all those who worked so hard to make this one of the best parades ever.”