Griswold, Norwich, Voluntown host annual Memorial Day observances
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Tue., May. 28, 2013
It’s been more than 50 years, but Grace MarcAurele still speaks wistfully of the son she sent to Vietnam in the 1960s and never saw again. “He was a handsome, handsome boy,” she said. “He was all set to come home and get married. He had a fiancée here.”
Instead, Lionel MarcAurele died in Vietnam in 1969, while serving in the Army Infantry. His photograph is displayed in the Voluntown library, next to that of Voluntown’s most recent fallen son, Tyler Griffin, a Marine who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. Both were 20 years old.
Grace MarcAurele stood next to Tyler’s mother, Susan Wilding, at Voluntown’s annual Memorial Day services May 27. The two Gold Star Mothers, who had ridden a convertible through town in the parade, leaned on each other for comfort as a trumpeter played the haunting strains of “Taps.”
Scout troops and school children placed brilliant marigolds on the town memorial that bears the names of all the town’s native sons who have fallen in battle. Sprinkled through the crowd were Tyler’s family and friends, wearing t-shirts with his picture. Wilding explained that the t-shirts were designed as part of a fund-raising effort for a Gold Star monument to honor the dead from the wars in the Middle East.
Inclement weather forced several local parades, including Voluntown’s, to reschedule from Saturday. The weather Monday proved to be ideal for a parade – sunny, not too hot, and lightly breezy to set flags waving briskly.
Jewett City’s parade wound its traditional route, starting with ceremonies at Fanning Park’s war memorials and stopping to pay tribute to the fallen at St. Mary Cemetery, then at the Quinebaug River bridge, where flowers were scattered on the water. A smaller contingent also visited cemeteries in Pachaug and Lisbon before proceeding to Voluntown for its afternoon ceremonies.
In Norwich, more Scout troops, classic cars and fire trucks escorted veterans and dignitaries to Chelsea Parade, where wreaths were laid at the city’s war monuments. Mayor Peter Nystrom told the crowd that a new monument on the green memorializing Norwich residents Jacob Martir and Keith Heidtman, both of whom died in the War on Terror, will be dedicated Sept. 11.