FORTY FORT —The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Color Guard received salutes and applause Monday as it led the three-mile-long West Side Memorial Day Parade on Wyoming Avenue.
Old Glory was predominate along the route from the march’s start at Kingston Corners at Market Street to the Forty Fort Municipal Building on River Street in the borough. The two-hour parade is one of the longest in the region.
The traditional march along Wyoming Avenue was among several held all around the area on Monday, including in Dallas, West Pittston-Exeter and Parsons in Wilkes-Barre, and West Wyoming/Wyoming, Hanover Township, Ashley and Dupont.
In Dallas, state Sen. Lisa Baker and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta reminded attendees about the costs of liberty. In West Pittston-Exeter, the parade had a personal meaning for several who turned out to watch and participate, and in Parsons, the march and ceremony were parts of a meaningful observance of the sacrifices of area men and women who have served in the armed forces.
Sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the high 70s presented perfect conditions for the West Side parade that attracted thousands who lined both sides of Wyoming Avenue for the Kingston-Forty Fort event.
Near Bennett Street in Kingston, 8-year-old Danny Wilfred and his friend, Alex Finn, 9, watched as veterans and active service members marched or were driven along the route.
Wilfred and Finn said they know what Memorial Day is all about.
“Memorial Day is when we honor those who died for our freedom,” Wilfred said.
“We pay respect for those who did not make it home,” said Finn.
Other Memorial Day parades were held in West Wyoming/Wyoming, Hanover Township, Exeter/West Pittston, Parsons in Wilkes-Barre, Ashley and Dupont.
The parade ended with a Memorial Service in the historic Forty Fort Cemetery held at the memorial stone commemorating the 1972 Agnes Flood, which washed away nearly 2,000 caskets during the natural disaster in June 1972. Bodies recovered after the flood were buried in a mass grave where the memorial stone stands.
Nearly 300 people attended the Memorial Service highlighted by a heart-warming speech by principle speaker Lt. Col. Andy J. Greenfield, U.S. Air Force Reserves and professor of Aerospace studies at Wilkes University.
“Each year on the last Monday in May, we remember those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who died while serving our great nation,” Greenfield said. “Memorial Day originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in service.”
Greenfield said more than 1 million servicemen and women have died while fighting for freedom.
“Several of our service members are buried right here daily reminding us to never forget their sacrifices,” Greenfield said. “I hope this sobering ceremony continues and those who serve will never be forgotten. Unfortunately, many see Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer and not as a day to honor the dead. It is up to us to constantly remind those in our communities why we remember.”