Veteran upset over lack of Memorial Day parade in Chicopee
CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News is getting answers for a local veteran. He posted on Facebook, upset that the Memorial Day parade would not happen on the holiday this year.
“Did the person that made that decision, did they serve? Did they know somebody that they sat in a hole with, that died in front of them?” said Trip Harper.
Harper was emotional as he talked to Western Mass News about Memorial Day. He posted on Facebook, wondering why the city of Chicopee would not be holding a parade on the holiday. He served as a Marine for five years, four of those spent in combat. As a young kid, he attended the parade every year.
“We were there. As a child, I can remember holding flags for the guys that came back and that was like my first moment, like this was real of people going other places and that’s my first memory really understanding what it was about. Fast forward 15 years and I was that guy coming home,” Harper added.
The city of Chicopee announced that a parade would not take place this year on Memorial Day. We asked Stephanie Shaw, the director of veterans services in Chicopee, why the decision was made. She told us this decision stems from 2019 when they were planning a dedication ceremony.
“We were very conflicted about having this jubilant parade and then really reflecting this somber moment that we wanted to create for that family in that respectful moment,” Shaw
Instead of the parade, the city plans to hold a ceremony for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“This decision was not made lightly; this decision was not made unilaterally. There is a committee in place with up to 55 delegates at a time and they are made up of representation of the nine veteran organizations in town,” Shaw explained.
The city will also be moving the parade to June 25 instead.
“Honor them and all the patriotic holidays in this area, to Armed Forces to Fourth of July…There’s Flag Day, Army birthday, honor our Gold Star families,” Shaw noted.
However, Harper believes that the ceremony will not bring as much attention to those who have lost their lives as the parade will. For him, it was more than 60 people he served with.
“We had an entire birthing area completely emptied, that was full on the way there. We got home and we had mothers and kids that were there, and their husband wasn’t getting off. I see those kids now and their teenagers and their dad’s not there,” Harper noted.
Harper believes the Memorial Day parade should have its own special day and he believes a parade will encourage younger children to learn about the fallen.
“It has its own day for a reason and I just don’t think it should be shared with any other day…It’s an excuse for me to explain to them why they have the freedoms they have, why things are the way they are and, quite frankly, how spoiled we are as Americans,” Harper said.
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