Bremen Holds 1st Memorial Day Parade After 20 Year Hiatusby Amy Wenger on May 26, 2014
Under a canopy of sunshine and a perfect blue sky, a long lost community tradition was revived with reverence and gratitude among the streets of Bremen on Monday, May 26. After a hiatus of more than 20 years, the annual Memorial Day parade made its spectacular return, winding its way down some of the town's most historic thoroughfares before ending at the cemetery, in a heartfelt and moving conclusion in which residents were given an opportunity to pay their respects to fallen heroes.
The effort to resurrect the tradition was spearheaded by the volunteer organization, Bremen Community Cares. When one of the group's primary organizers, Gayle Graverson, contacted fellow member Ginger Riley to help rally the local veterans and give them a chance to share in the day's festivities, Riley immediately went to task in contributing to the endeavor.
"I traveled the military life with my first husband for more than 30 years. The military and our soldiers hold a very dear place in my heart," Riley said. "When Gayle Graverson with Bremen Community Cares called and asked if I would call the vets and invite them to the parade, I was thrilled to connect with those great military veterans."
In all, there were approximately 30 veterans on hand that were included in the parade. The route began at the post office, before traveling north on North Center Street and pausing at the Yellow River bridge. At that time, VFW Post #8972 Commander Jim Gemmer read aloud, and local Navy veteran Michael Venable was given the honor of tossing a ceremonial wreath into the water. The caravan then resumed toward Second Street, where it continued until the final destination of the Bremen Cemetery was reached.
Among the patriotic, colorful, and spiritual elements that added character and intrigue to the parade were representatives from the area Boy Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, members of the VFW, a number of schoolchildren from the community, "Uncle Sam" gifting the crowd with balloons, and "Betsy Ross." Representation from the town's veterans was evident in various modes of travel, from fire trucks to a veterans wagon to vintage automobiles. Several individuals from various branches of the military service also witnessed the parade from their vantage points around town and within the crowds. Bremen resident and third grade student Emma Heller was a featured soloist, performing "The Star Spangled Banner."
Moments of honorable recognition included presentations from the Ladies' Auxiliary and the Honor Guard. A rendition of "Taps" was played, and there were moments of prayer and a gun salute. A wreath and flowers were then laid at the base of the Soldiers War Memorial.
Riley noted that the enthusiasm and appreciation for the Memorial Day parade was incredible to behold, as many residents showed their support by simply walking the parade route alongside the heroes, with many mothers pushing their children in strollers and children sailing by on bicycles.
"Such a great feeling seeing all the happy faces and great comments on the parade," Riley reflected. "One WWII vet said, 'no one has ever asked me to be in a parade to honor me.' That one saying made my day. I'm so happy this day has touched so many in Bremen."
For a gallery of pictures from the parade and ceremonies, click HERE...
Additional pictures will be added from the community throughout the next week.