File photo/Ernest A. Brown
Theyâre known as The Flying Squadron, an ever-changing group of Uxbridge veterans who have made it a Memorial Day tradition over the past 138 years to visit local schoolchildren with a simple message: The final Monday of May is not just the start of summer vacation season, but a time to honor Americans who died while serving in the U.S. military.
The squadron, which is made up today of 20 town veterans divided into two units, will conduct its 139th consecutive visitation to town schools on Friday to kick off the townâs Memorial Day observances.
The Flying Squadron has seen its ranks decline in recent years, especially the older veterans who fought in World War II.
âDuring the past several years we have lost some of our older veterans due to various reasons, so weâre looking to recruit new members to get involved with this great program and help continue this great tradition,â says Don Letourneau, a Vietnam Navy veteran who has been organizing the townâs Memorial and Veterans day ceremonies since 2006.
Memorial Day events throughout the Blackstone Valley, including Woonsocket, North Smithfield, Cumberland and Lincoln, begin this weekend before the holiday and continue through Monday. Bellinghamâs Memorial Day ceremony was held last weekend.
In addition to The Flying Squadronâs visit to local schools, a veteranâs church service will be held in Uxbridge on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at the First Evangelical Congregational Church on Court Street. All veterans are invited to participate.
On Monday, May 27, members of The VFW Post 1385, and American Legion, Charles A. Rice Post # 33, will depart the VFW at 6 a.m. and proceed to St. Mary's Cemetery and Prospect Hill Cemetery, where a short ceremony will be held to honor all deceased veterans. The ceremony will include a short prayer, a gun volley and Taps.
The townâs annual Memorial Day parade will step off at 9 a.m. from the Whitin Elementary School on Granite Street. All units and participants are asked to assemble at the school no later than 8:30 a.m. to receive their assigned positions.
After the opening exercises, the parade route will take the units to Walter F. Wesgan Square; Veterans Memorial Gymnasium at the McCloskey Middle School; and the Minuteman Monument outside of Prospect Hill Cemetery. A brief exercise will take place at each location. The parade will end at the Town Common where the main program will take place.
Guest speaker this year will be George F. May, a 1976 graduate of Uxbridge High School, who is now an assistant United States attorney in Mobile Alabama. May started his military career in the United States Air Force and was commissioned as a judge advocate in the Air Force through the direct appointment program in 1985. May currently holds the rank of Colonel and is currently assigned as the senior reservist at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, in Alabama.
In the event of rain, scheduled exercises will be held in the McCloskey Middle School auditorium at 10 a.m.
The Pawtucket Veterans Council will hold ceremonies on Monday, May 27. These include wreath-laying at 9 a.m. at the Pawtucket Veterans Memorial (Scallop Shell) in Slater Park, Armistice Boulevard; 9:15 a.m. at the Hiker Memorial, Grove Street Park; 9:30 a.m. at the Korean War Memorial, Park Place; and 10 a.m. at the Mineral Spring Cemetery.
At 11 a.m. There will be a main ceremony at the Veterans Amphitheater at Roosevelt Avenue and Exchange Street.
The cityâs Memorial Day Parade held in Riverside on Monday, May 27 at 10 a.m. Parade starts at the Oldham Elementary School and ends at the American Legion Hall.
The townâs Memorial Day Parade held on Saturday, May 25, beginning at 10 a.m. At Seekonk High School and ending at the Kevin Hurley Middle School. A âBicycle Brigadeâ with judging and prizes precedes the parade at the high school at 9:30 a.m.
In Woonsocket, Mayor Leo T. Fontaine along with The United Veteranâs Council (UVC) of Woonsocket has announced that the annual Memorial Day Parade will be held on Monday, May 27. All veterans and participants should meet in the parking lot behind the (former Blockbuster Video) at 9 a.m. The parade will kick off promptly at 10 a.m. from the corner of Cumberland and Clinton Street and disperse at Market Square.
The parade will march from Clinton to Worral Street toward the Korean War/Vietnam War Memorial, where there will be a wreath laying ceremony. Then the parade will march up Worral Street onto Social Street to the Civil War Memorial at Monument Square, where there will be another wreath laying ceremony. From there, the parade will continue to Veteran's Memorial Bridge for another wreath laying ceremony.
The grand marshal for this yearâs parade is Veteran of the Year Ernest Boisvert.
Parade participants will include local dignitaries, the Woonsocket High School and Middle School Bands, Woonsocket Fire Department Honor Guard, Woonsocket Police Department Honor Guard, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Cub Scouts Pack # 2 and the Woonsocket ROTC. The parade will be held rain or shine.
Any organization that would like to participate in the parade can contact Linda Plays at 767-9205.
The town of North Smithfield and the VFW Leclair-Kozlik Post in Forestdale will co-sponsor that townâs annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27. Civic groups and organizations, scouts, school bands, antique cars, youth groups and community agencies, as well as veterans from all walks of life, are encouraged to participate.
The parade will step off at 10:30 a.m. from the Slatersville Plaza and proceed down North Main Street to Town Hall for a memorial service, then continue to the VFW Leclair-Kozlik Post.
The 2013 Grand Marshall is Ernest Frappier, past State Commander of the VFW and past Commander of VFW Post 6342.
âAll veterans are encouraged to join the parade to show the respect that our military heroes deserve,â said Town Administrator Paulette D. Hamilton, Town Administrator. Anyone interested in taking part in this traditional parade should email Linda Thibault at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Town of Cumberland will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m. at the Monastery on Diamond Hill Road.
Also, Clube Juventude Lusitana will hold a Memorial Day parade, which steps off at 9 a.m. from the cemetery on Curren Road. The parade will be followed by an outdoor Memorial Day Catholic Mass at 11 a.m.
The Town of Lincolnâs six-division Memorial Day Parade steps off Monday at 11 a.m. from Smithfield and Reservoir Avenues at the Lincoln/Pawtucket line, and travels north on Smithfield Avenue to Walker Street and on to the industrial circle in the Saylesville Mill yard where the parade will conclude with refreshments and a performance by the Lincoln High School Jazz Band. This year, the parade is dedicated in memory of Lincoln Tree Warden Robert Heaton.
At parade will follow a wreath laying ceremony at the veterans memorial at Dow Square at 10 a.m.
Blackstoneâs annual Memorial Day parade and events will be held Sunday. The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. at the corner of Main and Country Streets and ends at Town Hall on St. Paul Street. The parade lineup includes local veterans groups, Civil War re-enactors, the Blackstone Valley Marine Corps, Millville American Legion, antique military vehicles and the Blackstone-Millville Regional High School and Middle School bands.
After the parade, Roosevelt Park in back of Town Hall will host day-long activities, including live entertainment, a food court, kids activities and arts and crafts.
A fireworks display will be held at 9:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Park.
Millvilleâs Memorial Day parade will be held Monday at 1 p.m. The parade steps off at the top of Central Street, proceeds over the bridges and ends at the fire station.
A Memorial Day ceremony will be held at Veterans Park located on Route 122 next to the fire station. Among the invited guests are state Sen. Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge).
Berard-Desjarlais American Legion Post 88 will hold a Memorial Day service on Monday at 1 p.m. at the war memorial at Freedom Park, Harrisville. The ceremony will feature the high school band and choir and the traditional reading of names of deceased veterans of all wars and releasing of white doves by Vietnam veteran Emile Leduc.
The Town of Glocester will hold its Memorial Day Parade on Monday, rain or shine. The Parade steps-off at 10 a.m. from the Baptist Church on Putnam Pike and will proceed east to the cemetery. Stops will be made at the bridge and Town Hall.
The Memorial Day Parade will begin at 10:45 a.m. on Monday in downtown Franklin.
Marchers will line-up at the Historical Museum, 80 West Central St. The parade will travel on Main, School, Union, West Central and Beaver streets, ending at the war memorial on the Town Common.
Marchers will stop at Dean College, Union Street Cemetery, St. Mary's Cemetery and the war memorial.