Manchester honors its fallen on Memorial Day

New Hampshire Union Leader
May 27. 2014 1:34AM
Sgt. Maj. Larry Houghton, of Manchester, hugs his great-granddaughter, Briella Houghton, of Hooksett, before the start of the Memorial Day Remembrance Ceremony at Veterans Park in Manchester on Monday. Houghton was the grand marshal for the parade held earlier on Monday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Stars and stripes were everywhere downtown Monday as Manchester marked Memorial Day.

It was a day of thanks and remembrance during the annual parade down Elm Street to Veterans Memorial Park. Marching bands belted out patriotic songs and veterans groups marched proudly behind the American flag.

The music was a hit with Connor Maguire, 6, and his younger sister, Cailin, of Manchester. Connor waved a miniature American flag and wore a hat and T-shirt featuring “USA” in bold letters. Cailin, 4, sported a headband with red, white and blue streamers.

“I just liked the music,” Connor said.

For other spectators, the mood was much more somber. Retired Army Maj. James H. O’Rourke stood near the corner of Elm and Merrimack streets and recalled fallen comrades from his tours in Korea and Vietnam.

“I lost a lot of friends,” O’Rourke said. “This is their day. It’s not about me or any of us that came back. We came back. They didn’t.”

State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, said the turnout for the parade was the best he’s seen in years. After the parade, hundreds of spectators made their way to Veterans Park for the annual wreath-laying ceremony. Veterans were joined by Mayor Ted Gatsas, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, who made brief statements thanking all who served in the U.S. military.

“As we think about the future, it’s important for us to continue to recognize the sacrifice and the service of those who gave their lives for this country,” Shaheen said.

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