Memorial Day Parade to be followed by dedication of new monument honoring Vietnam veterans

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Battlefield Crosses, a new monument at Veterans Memorial Park. Photo/Jon Hopwood

MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester will host a  Memorial Day Parade along Elm Street on Monday, May 31  that will culminate in the dedication of the new Vietnam Vets monument in Veterans Park after the observance ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony include Congressman Chris Pappas and Mayor Joyce Craig.

Last year, there was no parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce the chances that the parade becomes a spreader event, the Memorial Day parade will consist of a motorcade transporting veterans and dignitaries to Veterans Park.

Each year, the Memorial Day parade and observance ceremony is organized by the Manchester Veterans Council.  The Council is made up of two representatives from each of the major veteran’s service organizations: The American Legion, the Catholic War Veterans, the Disabled American Veterans, the Marine Corps League, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Manchester Veterans Council Commander Dan Beliveau asks the public to, “Come out and wave and cheer, but be safe.” 

An explanation of Battlefield Crosses that accompanies the city’s new Vietnam Veteran monument.

People are encouraged to watch the parade along Elm Street, while practicing social distancing and wearing a mask if they have not been vaccinated. 

The parade will shove off from Webster Street at 2:30 p.m. and travel along Elm Street to the Central Street entrance of Veterans Park, where the World War II memorial and other monuments honoring the nation’s veterans are located. 

After the observance ceremony, the Vietnam Veterans monument will be formally dedicated. Donated by the Disabled Veterans of America, it’s part of a larger memorial based on the symbolism of “combat crosses” marking the improvised graves of those who died on a battlefield.

In addition to those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, the combat crosses memorial currently commemorates the dead of WWII and the War on Terror. It will include WWI and Korean War monuments in the future. 

A new memorial dedicated to veterans of the Vietnam War will be dedicated on May 31, 2021, following the return of the city’s Memorial Day Parade. Photo/Jon Hopwood

Honoring Those No Longer With Us

According to Mike Lopez, a former Commander of the Manchester Veterans Council, Memorial Day honors military personnel who lost their lives in service to their country. It also honors those veterans who no longer are with us. In contrast, Veterans Day held on November 11th honors living vets.

“It’s a day to go out and remember those veterans,” said Lopez, “and thank them for the freedom we have today.” 

Memorial Day is very personal to veterans, as we remember our “buddies” who were lost during their military service. 

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Mike Lopez accompanied a buddy’s casket from the war zone to Arlington Cemetery. For him and other veterans like him, Memorial Day is the most solemn day of the year. 

At the American Legion’s Sweeney Post #2 on Maple Street, Legionnaires will set out at 6:30 a.m. to visit the 26 memorials honoring Manchester residents who died in combat. At each of the memorials, a bugler will play “Taps,” the bugle call that honors American military dead. 

Like Memorial Day itself, “Taps” dates back to the Civil War. Memorial Day evolved from Decoration Day, a day of remembrance for the Union Army dead held annually on May 30.