Litchfield Parade Features Many Smiles and Waves, and an Important Message

May 31, 2019

 

by Len Lathrop

Tractors and antique trucks, many decorated with patriotic flowers and flags, begin rolling by the Aaron Cutler Library round 8:50 a.m. for the Litchfield Memorial Day parade that was stepping off at 10 a.m. from Litchfield Middle School.

Some motorists did not seem happy being behind antique tractors going 17-18 miles an hour, but watching the assembly of motor-powered vehicles foreshadowed a great celebration. The festivities were led by the Litchfield Police Honor Guard in their debut appearance followed by town selectmen and Matt Lepore carrying the new official flag of the town of Litchfield that he designed. In the parade was the entire fleet of fire apparatus, all with a shiny coat of wax and the tires freshly blackened, however, the neatest thing were all the small hands and smiling faces that waved to everyone as they passed. Oh yes, the trucks were noisy, but every cab had family members to make the trip special.

Following the sea of red was a row of green John Deere tractors from Model B to Model 40 with one lone gray Ford. The first float was from Tabernacle Baptist Church with American warriors kneeing to salute the fallen the side of the float quoting John 15:13 “Greater Love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” With a little different emphasis was a rotating float from the McQuesten Farm featuring an antique cultivator.

There were Scouts and members of youth sports teams. Then came antique trucks and classic cars and trucks again with many little hands waving out the open windows, from an ice cream truck to milk route delivery trucks and even a transport from Camp Litchfield. The last group in the parade was the marchers dressed in clothing representative of the different periods of time when there were military conflicts.

When everyone reached the Litchfield old town hall they were treated to a moving program that reminded us why we all were there from the Invocation from Senior Pastor Michael Small of the Tabernacle Baptist Church who read the following poem before his prayer of invocation.

 

Freedom’s Never Free

 

Standing on a hillside where the river meets the sea

White crosses without number line the fields of peace

And each one a silent witness staring back at me

Every cross a story of another place in time

Where young men thought it worthy to give their life for mine

And for the sake of honor left their dreams behind

And for the price they paid I am forever in their debt

Their memory will not die because I will not forget

 

It was on another hillside just outside the city gates

The battle lines were drawn as soldiers took their place

The Father watched in silence as a cross was raised

With freedom drawing closer He took His final breath

He drank our cup of guilt and took the sting from death

Heaven’s Finest Soldier clothed in human flesh

And for the price He paid I am forever in His debt

The cross will never die because I will not forget

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

The Scouts change the flags in front of old town hall every year following the proper steps to honor our flag. The Campbell Band and Chorus treated everyone to historic hymns. The Parent family shared a World War I letter read by Christine Parent, and written in 1919 by Private Clifford Saunders sent home with a message about battle and who he was standing by and fighting alongside.

 

Hilgert, Germany

March 23, 1919

 

Dear Florence,

 

Yours received today and was glad as usual to hear from you. You say that you folks worried a great deal about the boys over here after the Armistice was signed until they were heard from. I hope that the people don’t quit worrying yet, as our worries just started with the signing of peace. I don’t think many boys worried much while on the Front, but the question “When are we going home?” covers about nine tenths of our conversation. I volunteered for the duration of the war, but didn’t sign up to spend a life time in the Army.

After I wander back to the U.S. I think the “Wanderlust” will have but a small hold on me.

After a person has put in as much time as I have, Camping out and sleeping in the open in mud, rain, and snow, eating bum grub, standing up with your back to the wind, why visions of an easy chair and a hot stove sure outshine any thoughts of what may be a little farther on.

I am on the east of the Rhine about twelve or fifteen miles from Coblenz. There are American soldiers in every town east of the Rhine for a distance of thirty kilometers.

I will send you photos as soon as I have some taken, which will be as soon as we have a little sunshine, this is sure the Champion country for rain.

Please give my best regards to all the folks.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Private Clifford Saunders

 

Three wreaths were placed in memory of all who served: Granite Marker — for those who served in all wars, Merrimack River — in memory of those lost at sea; and the Library Plaque — for those who served in World War I and World War II.

Flags were placed at the Church Cemetery by Carolyn Lambert and Girl Scout Troop 12391, and the program closed with “Taps” sung by Campbell High School students Billy Randolph and Joshua York.