Attendees at the third annual Milan Memorial Day parade and flag ceremony outside Milan Town Hall May 26 braved the dark clouds, cool temperatures, strong winds and the occasional sprinkle to honor all veterans and their fallen comrades.
The morning began with a riderless horse leading a parade of veterans, scouts and fire trucks up Route 199 into the loop around Milan’s town hall, a traditional tribute to fallen military leaders dating back to the time of the Roman legions.
This year’s ceremony, which included music by the Pine Plains Band, was dedicated to World War II veteran Robert F. Winne, who served in a combat regiment as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force reserves. Winne, a Rhinebeck resident who served as Milan town attorney, was kept home as a precautionary measure to protect his health.
“It is true Bob is a Rhinebeck resident, but I also consider him an honorary Milan resident,” Milan Town Supervisor William Gallagher told the crowd of about 150 people. “Bob served as the Milan town attorney for 40 years and was my good friend for most of them.”
The feel of encroaching weather was exacerbated by the sound of the wind in the open microphones during the ceremony suggesting distant thunder, something remarked upon nervously by more than one young child in the crowd.
During the ceremony, Pine Plains band teacher Joseph Deveau and the Pine Plains band were awarded a plaque recognizing their continuing support of, and participation, in the Memorial Day parade and ceremonies. Also recognized was Joseph Sprauer, who donated a large decorative eagle that Gallagher said would be used in next year’s ceremony.
Later, Marion Mathison stepped to the microphone to announce she and her husband, Mike, were giving the town a special gift.
“I grew up with an antique that represented the love for our country and heritage,” she said. “It was made in 1876 on the centennial of this country in Pennsylvania, and it is a piece of framed needlework that says ‘God bless our national land’. This is work which is no longer done by the women of this country — it is needlework on paper. When we moved to Milan, Mike and I were so impressed with the beauty of this town hall that we very much wanted if possible to share this. I thank BIll for accepting it and saying he’ll actually hang it in a place where people will see it.”
Milan resident and Dutchess County Legislator Debra Blalock found the ceremony a moving tribute.
“It’s an emotional time when you think of all of the people that laid down their lives for us,” Blalock said. “You think about it even historically, the people who fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War… and you think, oh my goodness, this was really a monumental thing for them to say, ‘I’ll go do it,’ and we really do have to appreciate what happened and how it affected not only those people but their families and say ‘Thank you.'”
“Many thanks to the veterans’ committee who worked tirelessly making this parade the success it is,” Gallagher said in closing. “And also thanks to the organizations that continue to support us.”