‘There Aren’t That Many of Us Left’: Memorial Day Parade Cancelled for First Time Since Civil War, Town’s Aging Vets a Factor

Veterans in suburban Boston gathered in a park to mark Memorial Day this year rather than hold a parade because of failing health and dwindling numbers.

The city of Beverly called off its parade this year because so few veterans would be able to march. The parade has been a fixture in the town since the Civil War.

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Jerry Guilebbe is the city’s Director of Veterans’ Services. He says it can be difficult for older vets to take part.

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“It’s not about parades and down the street and waving flags, it is about what we did all week long, spending countless hundreds of hours putting flags on every veteran’s grave, and remembering who they were,” said Guilebbe to NECN.

World War II Navy veteran Bill McPherson, who was there when the flag was raised over Iwo Jima, told NECN he’s upset about parade cancellation but “there aren’t that many of us left.”

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“My wife and I have both been quoted as saying we are upset by the whole thing,” said McPherson

“You know when you see them becoming infirm, and you now they are dying off every day, and the World War I guys are all gone, there is a little pain,” Mayor William Scanlon said.

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Tom Condon is the town’s oldest veteran, at 93, he recalls those who were lost.

“That people remember, who left and never came back, which is a lot of them, that’s who I remember,” said Condon to NECN.

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Tom’s daughter Suzanne told NECN that it’s “a little bit of a reflection to people who are in younger generations not really realizing how many people fought for us and how hard life was for them to make life great for us.”

Check out the news report from NECN:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.