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Rain doesn't stop Middletown from honoring the military on Memorial Day

By Dan Miller, danmiller@pressandjournal.com
Posted 5/29/17

The morning of Memorial Day 2017 in Middletown was one of those drizzly times when you don’t dare go out of the house without an umbrella.

But the skies didn’t matter. As master of ceremonies …

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Rain doesn't stop Middletown from honoring the military on Memorial Day

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The morning of Memorial Day 2017 in Middletown was one of those drizzly times when you don’t dare go out of the house without an umbrella.

But the skies didn’t matter. As master of ceremonies Dominic DiFrancesco put it, “It’s always a sunny day when you are honoring your veterans.”

Middletown-area residents and the town’s veterans organizations again came together Monday morning to continue the annual tradition of honoring the nation’s fallen service members.

As in past years, the ceremony at the Middletown Cemetery on North Union Street was preceded by a short parade that wove its way down Wood Street, to Ann, and then left onto South Union and up through the square.

Before the parade came into view, people and families gathered on their front porches and along the sidewalks could hear the patriotic songs being performed by the Middletown Area High School Band.

The event at the cemetery began with the unveiling of two cannons — one from the Civil War and one from World War II — that had been spruced up in recent weeks under the leadership of Tom Menear of the Middletown Sons of American Legion.

Mayor James H. Curry III, with his son James IV alongside at the podium, read the poem “Those Honored Dead” authored by Marion G. Mahoney.

“Middletown, thank you for remembering,” the mayor concluded. “Tomorrow is Tuesday. We’ll be off to work, we’ll be back to the daily grind, but it’s important that we remember. It’s important that we always honor the fallen and we should live our lives as Americans who are worth dying for.”

The turnout at the cemetery despite gray skies impressed the guest speaker for this year’s event, retired Marine Corps Sgt. Major Joe Staudt.

“It’s an honor to be here in Middletown. Such a strong veteran community with all the support, even on a rainy day,” said Staudt, who enlisted on Veterans Day 1977 and served for more than 32 years until retiring in January 2010. He is a combat veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

More than 1 million service members have been killed in action in the nation's conflicts from 1775 to today, Staudt said. Yet at present less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military.

He asked those attending pause for a moment to remember someone they know who was killed in action.

“Think about what you can do in your life to make their sacrifice worthwhile,” Staudt said. “Whether it’s spending more time to support our veterans, especially those coming back from war, or to volunteer in your community and do community service to make all of our communities great.”

He reminded those gathered of why so many have put their lives on the line, and continue to do so.

“What makes this country so great is the freedom, and those of us who go forward to defend our nation, we don’t go there with the hatred towards the enemy in front of us. We fight for what’s behind us — for our country, for our loved ones. That’s what we fight for.”