By GLORIA YEAGER and MARLENE BRADIGAN
We, the Forestville J. Carter Knapp American Legion 953 Auxiliary, want to thank many individuals and organizations for a very memorable Memorial Day in Forestville.
The parade, which ended at the Legion grounds, was led by the state police and sheriff, antique cars and cars with dignitaries and legion members unable to walk the entire distance from town to the legion, Forestville Fire Department, Linda and Doug Fairbanks with their horse-drawn wagon, Forestville Marching Band, Forestville American Legion and Auxiliary members, Doug Allen, the Rev. Patrick White, Mary Kordon and her Brownie and Girl Scout Troops, Cub Scout Joey Yeager, Girl Scout Alyssa Kordon, the Forestville Food Pantry, Fieldbrook Farms, Lorraine Hodkin, Mary Ann and Tom Gould, Tom Halicki, Ronald Halicki, Madelyn and Bob Bradigan, Marlene Bradigan, Braden Smith, Mary Congdon, Michael Congdon and the Congdon family.
Scouting members place carnations near the crosses in Forestville during Memorial Day services.
The men and women of the American Legion, many in their 70s and 80s, formed two lines with Braden Smith, grandson of Madelyn and Bob Bradigan and son of Dana and Karen Bradigan Smith, marching in the middle, dressed in Army camouflage. As our veterans have protected our freedoms, these legion members were protecting this youngster. Braden is following a Bradigan tradition. His grandfather has marched for years, first with his father and three uncles and now with cousins in Forestville Memorial Day parades.
Immediately following the parade, Doug Allen, the voice of the Sabres, sang the National Anthem.
The master of ceremonies, Commander Tom Halicki, introduced the Rev. Patrick White, who gave the invocation. The commander introduced his uncle Ronald Halicki, a Vietnam veteran, who gave an inspiring speech to those gathered to honor our veterans. Marlene Bradigan introduced Girl Scout Alyssa Kordon, daughter of Mary and Philip Kordon, and Cub Scout Joey Yeager, son of Cherie and Brian Yeager. Alyssa has many relatives who served in the military, and Joey's grandparents, Gloria and Dick Yeager, are both very active in the Auxiliary and Legion. Alyssa and Joey took the Memorial wreath and placed it in front of the stone inscribed with "dedicated to those who serve their country."
The Brownies, Girls Scouts and Joey then placed carnations on the crosses which had a Forestville departed veteran's name written on them. Some family members of our fallen heroes chose to place the carnation on their family member's cross.
Madelyn Bradigan presented the annual John Bradigan Classic Car award which is given to a different vehicle every year on Memorial Day.
A World War II Japanese rifle was presented by Michael Congdon, son of Auxiliary member Mary Congdon. His father, who is deceased, had brought the rifle home from the battlefield in World War II. The rifle will be on display in a legion show case along with Congdon's picture of him in uniform holding the rifle. Many members of the Congdon family attended.
The ceremonies ended with Allen, the Forestville Marching Band playing and those attending singing the Star Spangled Banner.
The Forestville Food Pantry, their director Lorraine Hodkin and volunteers prepared and served a free lunch. The Forestville community had donated the funding for this lunch and everyone enjoyed hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones, drinks and ice cream donated by Fieldbrook Foods. Mary Ann and Tom Gould set up a petting zoo with several exotic animals on the legion grounds.
We were so honored to be present at this Memorial Day celebration honoring our veterans. Many legion and auxiliary members have contributed their time and labor to make the legion and Forestville a community to be proud of.
Gloria Yeager, president, and Marlene Bradigan, secretary, are members of the J. Carter Knapp American Legion 953 Auxiliary.