Gilford Memorial Day gathering told to be 'forever grateful'

GILFORD — The clouds broke just in time for the the 300 or so people who attended the annual Memorial Day parade yesterday.

The parade was led by flag bearer and Police Officer Charles Hopkins who has been a local part-time officer for 50 years in both Laconia and Gilford.

Marine Corp Veteran Doug Wall and Army Veteran Wesley DeSousa lead the Gilford Police Department Color Guard and Fire Chief and Deputy Chief Steve Carrier and Brad Ober lead the Fire Department Color Guard.

The Knights of Columbus were there in full-regalia and the Gilford High School marching band brought up the rear with patriotic songs. Also participating were veterans in a white fire truck, veterans, surviving spouses, Blue and Gold Star mothers, members of the Board of Selectmen, town department heads, and the Girl Scouts.

Once at the cemetery, high school trumpeter Hunter Anderson played Taps.

At the route that runs from the Gilford Community Church to the World War I and II Memorial to the Pine Grove Cemetery, Hopkins handed the flag to two members of the military who raised it after a members of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of Troop 243 laid a ceremonial wreath.

Reverend Michael Graham gave a benediction at each of the two sites reminding his audience that "may we never forget what they have done."

Along the parade route, people lined Belknap Mountain Road as the parade progressed along the quarter mile stretch.

The keynote speech at the cemetery was given by Selectman Vice Chair Gus Benevides.

"We cannot allow ourselves to every stop being grateful," Benevides began.

Benevides took yesterday speech as a time to not only honor those who had given their life in battle but to honor those who served but came back wounded both inside and out.

"We should honor our soldiers and their families who served and who are still serving," he continued. "We must encourage and support them."
Benevides encouraged those who were at the ceremony to seek out a veteran and ask what he or she could do to help them.

"It is our opportunity now to serve our veterans," He said. "May we always be grateful to the families of our soldiers."