Thousands Honor Country's War Veterans In Hartford
November 06, 2011
Tim Rykowski was standing near the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch Sunday morning, waiting for the wreath-laying ceremony that kicked off the Veterans Day parade.
Rykowski, a Norwich police officer, was wearing the camouflaged jacket he wore as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps during his four years of activity duty that ended in 2003.
"I'm here today because there's a deep love and respect for those that came before us and I don't want them to ever be forgotten," Rykowski said.
Rykowski was joined by about 15,000 others to cheer on about 2,700 veterans, marching bands members and other parade participants.
Among them was parade grand marshal Americo "Rico" T. Pace, who served as a corporal in World War II and was with the first wave of soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.
Pace, 89 and a West Hartford resident, expressed much the same sentiment as Rykowski as he prepared to lay the wreath.
"It's important for me to be here," Pace said. "I may be grand marshal, but I accept it not only for myself, but especially for the vets that came before me and sacrificed so much."
Pace said he was proud that a new generation of veterans from recent wars are doing the same and hoped that the tradition would "go on forever."
The other honorary grand marshals for the parade were: U.S. Army Sgt. Jimmie L. Griffin, of Waterbury; U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Harold Rochette, Sr., of Meriden; U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, of New London; and U.S. Army Capt. William S. Warner, of Glastonbury.
Parade organizers expected a lower than usual turnout in light of last week's powerful storm.
"We knew it would be less than previous years with people cleaning up or out of power; and a few groups weren't able to make it but already signed up for next year," said Laura Soll.
Soll said the best band winners were: Rockville High School; Timothy Edwards Middle School in South Windsor; the Connecticut Valley Field Music of Middletown and Moodus Drum and Fife.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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