Highland parade goes on under darkened skies

By Ella Connors
Posted 5/29/24

Hundreds gathered Monday morning as the Town of Lloyd held its Memorial Day Parade to pay homage to lives lost and honor those who have served their country.

Spearheaded by the American Legion …

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Highland parade goes on under darkened skies


Hundreds gathered Monday morning as the Town of Lloyd held its Memorial Day Parade to pay homage to lives lost and honor those who have served their country.

Spearheaded by the American Legion Lloyd Post 193, the parade began on Phillips Avenue with attendees proceeding down New Paltz Road and through the village, with the walk culminating on the Baptist Church lawn. Several local groups and organizations walked in the parade including the Highland High School and Middle School bands, the Highland Rotary Club and the local Boy and Girl Scouts. Multiple speakers addressed the crowd on the lawn, with many of them emphasizing that Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance.

Although rain threatened to move the event indoors, many still showed up for the parade and to listen to the subsequent speeches.

“If it was a downpour we were still going to march because the soldiers and sailors and everybody that died to make this day, they didn’t just die on sunny days,” Terry Elia, the outgoing Commander of American Legion Lloyd, said. “They died in the hardships of winter and rain and drought. When they had to fight they fight.”

Once everyone had assembled around the church, Dusty Callo began the presentation of speakers with her rendition of the national anthem followed by a series of prayers. The Grand Marshall for 2024, Charles Busick – who has been hailed as a “Korean War veteran, teacher” and a “true friend and patriot” – was introduced and recognized.

The incoming Commander of American Legion Lloyd, John Gallagher, spoke to the crowd, opening with the story of Navy SEALS Nathan Gage Ingram and Christopher J. Chambers, who lost their lives trying to board an unflagged ship in the Arabian Sea carrying Iranian-made weapons to Yemen on January 11 of this year. The two boats were driven apart by waves, leading Chambers to jump in and Ingram to follow to try to save him. Gallager used the story to highlight the dangers involved with military service, especially Navy Special Warfare Operators.

“In the American Legion preamble, we pledge to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in all wars,” Gallager said. “We do this not to pat ourselves on the back or impress people with stories of our own military service. We know what we did. But we are also witnesses. Veterans have seen heroism in its purest form. Veterans served alongside the very men and women that we remember today.”

After Gallager finished addressing the crowd, Town of Lloyd Supervisor David Plavchak also made a few remarks.

Christina Fanitzi — a US Army War College Fellow at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs with the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and 7 Peace Studies Program — was the final featured speaker. She has served 21 years of active duty and commanded at the Battalion Level, serving as the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion Commander.

Fanitzi said she would like to wish people a reflective Memorial Day, not a happy one, emphasizing the somber nature of the holiday.

“A lot of people today have thanked me for my service,” Fanitzi said. “And you’re absolutely worth it, I would not change anything in my life, I would not do anything differently, but today is not about me, and it’s not about the 725 service members from the Town of Lloyd that fought through World War I through the Iraq War but it’s about the 30 of them that did not come home.”

At the conclusion of the speeches, a few awards were given out to the different present community groups and David Moraca led in the singing of God Bless America. The firing squad shot and the high school band played one last time. The legion then invited attendees and participants to join them for refreshments.

Mary Jo Cipollini, a Highland resident, said she has lived in Highland her entire life, and her father was in the firing squad for a long time. She herself has marched in the parade in the marching bands, and her kids walked with the Little League.

“We’re honoring those who didn’t come home,” Cipollini said. “We’re a small town and they are coming out here to make a difference and to remember those who have fallen for our freedoms. We wouldn’t miss it.”