A day of remembrance

GERRY – The weather could not have been more affable for participants in the annual Memorial Day observance and celebration in Gerry.

On Sunday, hundreds of area residents turned out to see the Memorial Day weekend celebrations kick off with a parade and memorial service at Gerry Village Cemetery.

The parade began with a 2 p.m. departure from the Gerry Rodeo Grounds, and made its way down Route 60 to the four corners. Represented in the parade were: the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department; the 96th Highlanders pipe band; Larry Barmore, Chautauqua County clerk; state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown; state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean; Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie New York Chapter 4; and the Gerry and Sinclairville fire departments.

The parade took a left at Gerry’s main intersection to continue north on Route 60 before stopping at Gerry Village Cemetery, where a Memorial Day service was held. The grand marshall of the parade was Robert Anderson, a U.S. Navy Reserves veteran of the Vietnam War.

The ceremony began with a brief history by Richard Holley of how “The Star-Spangled Banner” came to be written, an invocation by Heather Allport-Cohoon, pastor of Gerry United Methodist Church; placing of the ceremonial wreath at the Gerry Veterans Memorial by U.S. Navy veteran Ron Cotten; and a keynote address by guest speaker William Ohnmeiss, a U.S. Army veteran and chief of the Ellicott Police Department.

“(Memorial Day) is a day to remember and honor our servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice – death – in defense of our country and freedom,” Ohnmeiss said. “As we remember and honor all these brave souls, we must look toward the future as well as the past. The cost of independence remains high. Let us never forget, and continue to educate our youth, that it wasn’t the policeman that gave us freedom, it was the soldier; it wasn’t the lawyer that gave us the right to a fair trial, it was the soldier; it wasn’t the media that gave us our First Amendment right, it was the soldier. They will be forever in our memories and hearts, for we are grateful.”

Other speakers for the ceremony included: Larry Petry, Kasey Crandall, Daniel Heitzenrater, Gail Cieplinksi and Town Supervisor John Crossley.

Music was provided by: the 96th Highlanders pipe band, which performed a rendition of “Amazing Grace”; Heather Holley and Paul Holley, who performed “Taps”; and Melissa Heitzenrater-Beichner, who performed a cappella renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” and “America the Beautiful.”

A 21-gun volley was administered by the Cassadaga Legion and Henry Mosher Post, and the raising of the flag was performed by the Henry Mosher Post and Cassadaga Memorial Post 1280.