American Legion picks up Memorial Day parade

Staff Report

    The Wilmington American Legion Lester J. Smith Post 191 will be hosting the annual Memorial Day weekend parade on Saturday, May 26.
    The Veterans of Foreign Wars Malcolm J. Mayo Post 5422 decided not to organize the parade this year. They’d done it for the last 10 years and public interest was waning. The American Legion, however, wants to keep the tradition going.
    “The parade and memorial service are a tradition that Wilmington should be proud of,” said Ken Watt, Commander of Post 191. “It is the one time a year that we take time out to honor those who gave their lives so that we can spend the other 364 days doing whatever we want — thanks to their sacrifice.”
    The parade will step off at 10 a.m. from the Stevens Intermediate School and end at Veterans Memorial Park, where the members of VFW Post 5422 will hold a memorial service. The service will include a rifle salute by the VFW Honor Guard, guest speakers and a reading of deceased VFW and American Legion members.    
    Hot dogs, pop, chips and cake will be served after the memorial service.
    Residents are invited to be a part of the parade, or just stand along the road to watch. Contact Watt at 815-458-7740 to register a parade entry.
    The community can honor veterans by participating in or supporting two other American Legion activities that week:
    • On Friday, May 25, at 11 a.m., the American Legion Lester J. Smith Post 191 will honor deceased military veterans by having a flag line on Baltimore and Water Streets.
    Anyone who is interested in participating should meet at the parking lot next to Nelly’s to pick up a flag, or a sign that will help the group bring attention to the Opioid crisis and veteran suicide rate.
    • American Legion Post 191 members will also be passing out poppies and collecting funds to help veterans and the community at various locations on May 25.