A day to remember the fallen, what they fell for

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Members of the Gloversville Police Department flank the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Prospect Hill Cemetery during the Memorial Day ceremony, Monday

GLOVERSVILLE – Three-year-old Caleb Collier pointed out another fire engine approaching Third and Kingsboro avenues Monday morning. He wanted to make sure no one missed it. Then, he quickly gave his next direction:

“Wave!”

The boy from Johnstown loves anything with a motor, according to his dad Derrick Collier, but he was particularly enthralled with the fire departments passing by in Gloversville’s Memorial Day Parade. His parents were glad to show him all of the heroes.

The parade was back after the coronavirus pandemic caused a cancellations in 2020 and 2021. With an honor guard made up of members of the Gloversville Police Department and Fulton County Museum as Grand Marshal leading the way, there were youth sports teams, marching bands, first responders, veterans groups, cars carrying Gloversville High School graduating seniors, and everyone was throwing out candy.

Caleb’s mom, Katie Kidder, was also there with her sister Sara Petit, of Bleecker. They come from a military family. Their father and grandfather both served in the U.S. Army. Kidder said the parade represented “freedom” and, at a time when foreign wars, COVID and violence in America are grabbing headlines, she was happy to bring her son to such a positive experience.

“It’s great,” Kidder said. “That’s what my father fought for, that’s what our grandfather fought for. That’s why we’re here, why we can stand here and do this, celebrate. They can be oblivious to the world. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis was thankful to be together again as well. He said celebrations like Monday are important at a time when the Constitution is under attack and large parts of the population don’t appreciate America’s form of government.

“It was something that was sorely missed last year because of the pandemic, but it was so good to actually be able to be here and to do this,” the mayor said, “because it’s a tradition that goes way, way back to the 1860s…when Gloversville was a village, and they had a lot of war dead, you could see their graves here [in Prospect Hill Cemetery]. So, it’s a real tribute to [our] community, to our own people, who made the ultimate sacrifice in times past.”

In Jessica Petoff’s case, it was the young people in her life telling her and her friends that they wanted to go to the parade. They were excited to come out after so long without a parade. Her son, Dominic Bush, is autistic so she said it was great to bring him to enjoy the experience.

“It’s very important to get him out and do stuff like this and [let him] see everything’s not dangerous in this world,” Petoff said.

Keith Lachmayer brought his four-year-old granddaughter Karina to her first parade Monday. But, for him, it was also about paying his respects to all the men and women who have and continue to serve the United States. His son Evan has been in the U.S. Navy for four years and is currently stationed in Virginia.

“I mean, words don’t even describe how proud I am of him that he made that decision,” Lachmayer said.

Once the parade made its way along Kingsboro to Prospect Hill Cemetery, the day’s tribute continued with a Memorial Day ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument inside the hallowed grounds.

As part of the proceedings, parade committee member Jordan Twardy shared the story of Lance Corporal Matthew John Baurle, a U.S. Marine from Gloversville killed in action in Vietnam on May 29, 1969 – just past his 20th birthday. Baurle shocked his family when he told them he was joining the service only two days beforehand, according to his uncle Allen Baurle, who attended the ceremony along with 11 other members of the family.

Twardy pointed out that Matthew Baurle enlisted willingly at a time when the draft was calling upon many American men.

“There [were] numbers. They could have pulled anybody over there, but he put his card on the table,” Twardy said.

Scott Farhart, son of Matthew Baurle’s younger sister Susan Farhart, said he is amazed by people like that, that they are “few and far between.”

Michael Perrella was another member of the crowd honoring loved ones Monday, though his losses happened more recently. The leader of the parade committee lost his parents Robert and Gloria within five weeks of each other last spring. Robert Perrella had organized the Memorial Day parade for 60 years before his passing, and this was his son’s first without him.

“I saw the bagpipe guys and I kind of broke down…[but] I knew I was going to get through it because I had people and my grandson with me and support of the family,” Perrella said. “I knew my father would be pleased.”

By Andrew Pugliese

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