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A day of remembrance
These were some of the scenes from Monday's Memorial Day parade in Rumford and Mexico. (Times photos by Bruce Farrin)
RUMFORD/MEXICO -- After days of rain, the skies brightened Monday morning for the annual Memorial Day parade, hosted by American Legion Post 24.
At the Rumford portion of the event, the guest speaker was Wayne J. Gallant, a Vietnam War veteran. He noted, "This is Memorial Day. This is a day to celebrate. It's a day of remembrance. It's a day of thanksgiving and it's a day of forgiveness. As citizens of the United States, we have many rights and freedoms that others in the world can only dream about, can only hope for."
"This is a day of remembrance. Remember those who have worn and those who are presently wearing the uniform of freedom that so represents this great nation. Remember those who have fought. Remember those who have died," said Gallant, noting, "This free country has sent over 42 million warriors into battle, into harm's way, to protect the freedoms we so enjoy today."
Gallant then listed all of our wars, starting with the Revolutionary War. When he got to World War II, he asked those in attendance to give applause to the WWII veterans here today. They continued to applaud veterans of ensuing wars that Gallant listed until current.
More than 1,099,000 Americans have lost their lives, including 4,488 in Iraq. In Iraq, the wounded was over 30,000. The U.S. has lost over 2,000 in Afghanistan. The State of Maine has lost 50 soldiers in these two wars. Oxford County has lost three.
Gallant also thanked Rep. Sheryl Briggs for fighting in getting a bill passed for a yearly remembrance day for the Vietman veterans.
This is also a day of forgiveness.
Gallant recalled, "When we came back from Vietnam, we weren't welcomed too well in this country."
When he went to school to get his degree, he had to write a journal about forgiveness. He then shared some of his writings at that time.
"There were many mistakes made during the seventies and sixties. One of the biggest was when part of nation turned its back on those returning from home. I'm not saying that being in Vietnam was right for this country, but what I did for my country was right. America, I forgive you," he said.
"This is a day, and everyday, that all our words should say, 'God bless America. The land that I love. Stand beside her, guide her, through the night with the light from above.'"
"This is Memorial Day. I thank you veterans for your service and I thank those who are no longer among us. But yes, they are still with us. Let this be a day of celebration, a day of thanksgiving, a day of forgiveness and a day of remembrance," said Gallant.