Blue skies, plenty of sunshine and a light breeze made this Memorial Day a picture-perfect day for a parade, and spectators lined the streets of the parade route through downtown Riverhead, waving flags and calling out to marchers as they passed by.
Led by the Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee and accompanied by the Riverhead High School marching band, marchers representing veterans groups, service organizations, town government, the NJROTC, volunteer emergency services and scout troops paraded through town, stopping for memorial services at the World War I monument, St. John's Cemetery and Riverhead Cemetery, before closing ceremonies at the War Memorial on the corner of Osborne and Pulaski.
With Afghan war veterans Timothy and Tajua Wiwczar of Wading River on hand to commemorate the occasion, Eugene McSherry of the Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee unveiled a new plaque dedicated to veterans of the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The plaque was added to the War Memorial this week, donated by the Combined Veterans Committee, McSherry said. The Wiwczars, father and son, both did full tours of duty in Afghanistan in 2008.
Supervisor Sean Walter spoke to the crowd gathered at the War Memorial about "the common thread" in all the conflicts in which American military forces have been engaged throughout time, "that America has stood on the side of freedom and for man's self-determination."
"Yes, America possesses the greatest and most powerful military in the history of mankind," Walter said, "but our true strength is our people, our strength is the dedication of our solders, marines, airmen and seamen and in their righteousness in our cause to stand for freedom.
"Let each us embrace the ideals of what it truly means to be American, and to recognize and cherish the sacrifices of all those who made it possible," the supervisor said.
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