Jim Jeffalone of Homer stood along South Main Street in the village watching the annual Memorial Day parade pass by on a sunny and cool morning Monday.
“We’re remembering our fallen heroes today, without whom we wouldn’t enjoy the democracy and freedoms we have today,” said the Air Force veteran, who served stateside from 1966 through 1970. He mentioned the freedom of assembly and speech among his cherished rights.
A marching band, firefighters, police officers, village officials and a Boy Scouts of America troop were among those who participated in the parade, which began on North Main Street and proceeded up Cayuga Street to Glenwood Cemetery for a ceremony.
Ken and Michelle Baker, a couple who met at Rock Island Arsenal in Mississippi while serving in the Army, watched the parade from a neighbor’s yard on Cayuga Street.
“It’s nice to see everyone out here recognizing the veterans and the troops,” said Ken Baker, who was at one time stationed at a prison of war camp in Saudi Arabia.
The Bakers later were among a few hundred people who attended the ceremony at the cemetery.
Among those who spoke at the Glenwood Cemetery ceremony was Joe Reily, a Marine combat veteran who
read the names of his comrades who died in battle. Riley served from July 2007 through June 2011.
Bill Rappis, a visitor from the country of Greece who sat on a bench along the Village Green for the parade, said he was visiting friends in the village and decided to attend.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “I like it.”
Memorial Day events were held in other communities, including Cortland, Cincinnatus and Groton.
At a brief event in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Main Street in Cortland, Navy veteran Michael Dexter read Logan’s Orders, an 1868 document in which Gen. John A. Logan encouraged celebrations across the country to honor the war dead.
Jeffalone, who was promoted to captain during his military service, said he was vaccinated against COVID-19 and he felt comfortable attending the Homer parade in person.
He said the event helps demonstrate the importance of Memorial Day for young people and perpetuate respect for those who died to defend the country.
“Too many people think of it as just a three-day weekend,” Jeffalone said.