This year’s Memorial Day parade may prove a bittersweet occasion for those to whom the memory of the late Franklin E. Johnson is still sharp.
And though Johnson planned and led the parade for many years before his passing earlier this year, the Naugatuck Veteran’s Council has decided the parade must go on.
The council recently announced this year’s parade leader, who will take the helm in Johnson’s place. Retired Lieut. Col. Peter M. Rembetsy, an Army Air Corp. veteran of World War II, will lead the march, beginning at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, May 31. Parade units will assemble at 8:45 a.m.
Rembesty, 91, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corp. during WWII and was assigned to the 93rd Bomber Squadron in England. He later became the lead pilot for the 329th and the 330th Bomber Groups. He saw air action over Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland and the Ardennes. For his combat missions, he received the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, plus the European, African, and Middle-Eastern Service medals. He also received the Air Medal for meritorious service, with distinction, after flying several missions under ground fire and enemy air fighter attacks. He is still active in the Reserve Officers Association.
This year’s Memorial Day observance will include a Learjet flyover courtesy of the 103rd Wing, Connecticut Air National Guard and the coordination of air-ground radio controller and borough native retired Master Sgt. Robert Tuckey.
Following the ceremonies, Cadet Colonel Corey Boulanger, cadet commander of the high school’s Jr. Air Force ROTC program, will accept the first annual Franklin E. Johnson Naugatuck High School ROTC Merit Award. Aassdeep Kaur, an eighth-grader at Hillside Middle School, will also accept the 2010 Phillips-Hollister Gettysburg Address award.
Beginning at 7:00 a.m., St. Michael’s Episcopal Church will offer a Memorial Day pancake breakfast on the green. More information is available at (203) 729-8249.
On Friday, May 28, at 7:00 p.m., the Naugatuck Arts Commission will continue its longstanding tradition of presenting a “Musical Salute to All U.S. Veterans” at the Davis Auditorium in Naugatuck High School. This annual program pays homage to all five service branches and is filled with entertainment from around the borough, including the Naugatuck Community Band, the girl scouts of Naugatuck’s Lone Tree Unit, the Community Choir, the Community Jazz Ensemble, the Women’s Club Dance Troupe and the award-winning Naugatuck High School Percussion Ensemble. Many more acts will take the stage and perform at the free concert.
Prospect will host its own parade on Monday, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the town green. Mayor Bob Chatfield said he welcomes anyone who wants to be in the parade to join in, veterans and civilians alike.
“If you have an antique car or you just want to walk and carry a flag, or you want to help carry the big flag, we welcome everybody. Just see me and I’ll put you in the line,” he said. “It’s a very small, but meaningful parade. We have to honor our veterans.”
The parade will stop for a brief ceremony at the cemetery, courtesy of American Legion Post 194, which will include a 21-gun salute and a performance of Taps.
The parade will return to the town green at approximately 2:00, where the names of every Prospect veteran who’s died in the last year will be read. Wreathes and carnations will also be placed in their honor. Ms. Jordan Williams, who won a recitation contest at Community School, will read “Flander’s Fields,” a World War I era poem.
The special guests at this year’s parade will be several soldiers who recently returned from service in Afghanistan and Iraq. A flyover from the 103rd Wing is planned.
In the event of rain, the parade will be cancelled and the ceremony will be held in Saint Anthony’s Church at 1:00 p.m. The fire department will also meet at the Prospect Congregational Church at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 30 to attend Firefighter Sunday.
The American Legion Post 25 will hold a Memorial Day Ceremony on Sunday, May 30 at 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Park on Main Street. The public is cordially invited.