The parade lines up at 9 am in front of Foothills at 24 Market Street in Oneonta and steps off at 10 am sharp. Police Chief Douglas Brenner (retired) will announce the parade from Muller Plaza on Main Street. Parade will process down Main Street and continue to Neahwa Park, where a commemorative ceremony will take place at 11 am. City Council member Len Carson will introduce the speakers in Neahwa Park and the Reverend Randy Palada will offer a benediction.
The American Legion has invited John and Joan Brooks to serve as Grand Marshals for the 2022 Memorial Day Parade in recognition of their service to this country and notably to this community.
“We are so incredibly honored to be chosen as Grand Marshals,” John Brooks said. “We were taken aback when David Hayes notified us! We love this community and love giving back.”
The committee welcomes additional parade entries; any community group, charitable organization or place of business is welcome to march. Please phone David Hayes at 607 353-9000 or simply be present at Foothills on Monday, May 30, at 9 in the morning.
ONEONTA – Despite the occasional rain and cold weather, hundreds came out for the Memorial Day parade and a wreath laying ceremony Monday, May 31, in Neahwa Park to honor the country’s veterans who died in service.
Participants in the parade included the Oneonta Fire Department, the Oneonta PD, the American Legion, the Rotary Club, the Boy Scouts and the VFW.
Fred Hicken, a WWII veteran, was the grand marshal of the parade.
The parade started on Market Street, adjacent to the Foothills Performing Art Center. It proceeded on Main Street and ended at the veteran’s memorial plaques in the park.
Mayor Gary Herzig gave a personal thank you to the veterans present at Neahwa Park.
“I had family members who lost their lives in the concentration camps,” Herzig said.
Herzig said that Memorial Day was important to “take the time to remember those who fought and particularly those who didn’t come home,” Herzig said. “Their sacrifice and their families’ sacrifice was also our entire communities’ sacrifice … We can only dream of what we could’ve been if we hadn’t lost those who didn’t come home. It’s a true loss not only for them and their families but all of us.”
During the ceremony at Neahwa Park, there was a short invocation to begin the ceremony that said a prayer for stopping the rain and allowing them to honor veterans. The Gettysburg Address was read, along with Gen. John Logan’s orders, which first designated Memorial Day as a time of honoring veterans.
Scouts BSA of Oneonta placed about 3,600 flags across the community.
The ceremony ended with a 21 gun salute and the bagpipes of Michael Woytach, an Iraq War veteran who is part of the VFW in Oneonta.
“It’s just to pay my homage for those who can’t be here with us today,” Woytach said.
Herzig summed up the day with his closing remarks.
“It’s a sad day and also a proud day,” Herzig said.
ONEONTA PARADE – 10 a.m. Come out to remember our fallen soldier. Followed by solemn ceremony of remembrance guided by Lester Grummons. Parade will leave from Foothills PAC and progress down Main Street Oneonta to Neahwa Park, Oneonta.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS PARADE – 10:30 a.m. Parade will form on Johnson St. and proceed down Main St., Richfield Springs.
COOPERSTOWN PARADE – 11 a.m. Memorial day parade including Cooperstown Fire Department, and Fly Creek Fire Department, others will begin at Cooperstown Veterans Club and proceeds up Main Street to the Otsego County Courthouse where Guest Speakers Mayor Tillapaugh and David Reiss will present. All COVID-19 precautions will be observed. Masks & Social Distancing are required. Main St., Cooperstown.
MEMORIAL DAY GATHERING – 2 – 4 p.m. Community is invited to enjoy refreshments, tours, and a commemoration of our fallen soldiers. Masks & social distancing required. Lakewood Cemetery, Cooperstown. 607-547-9515
The Cooperstown Memorial Day Parade will start at 11 a.m., Monday, May 31.
The parade will begin at the Cooperstown Veterans Club and make its way up Main St. to the Otsego County Courthouse. Masks and social distancing will be required.
VFW dedication at Pierstown Grange
There will be a dedication by the Cooperstown VFW of World War I and World War II memorial plaques at 2 p.m. on Saturday May, 29, outside the Pierstown Grange Hall in the town of Otsego.
Inspired by the roadside dedication in honor of John Kempe Winslow on state Route 205, the village of Cooperstown will work with the Cooperstown Veterans Club to find an appropriate place to honor Robert “Bobby” W. Atwell, who was killed March 21, 1968, in Vietnam.
A private first class in the Army, Atwell, 20, was the only village resident who died in Vietnam. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal.
In October, the state dedicated a section of 205 in the hamlet of Hartwick in honor of Winslow, a Marine Sgt. who was killed in Vietnam in 1969.
The village of Coopers-town’s Board of Trustees has tentatively approved a permit for the Cooperstown Veterans of Foreign Wars to hold its annual Memorial Day Parade.
The trustees conditionally approved the permit for Monday, May 31, providing state laws regarding the coronavirus pandemic are obeyed.
Margot Williams and her boyfriend John Blackwood, above, were over from Schoharie today, enjoying the opening of Glimmerglass State Park, among those that Governor Cuomo Sunday ordered reopened for the summer. Admission was free, but people were handed a list of rules to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19. Inset right, the beach was open to swimmers, but beachgoers were required to space their blankets 10 feet apart. Inset left, even trash cans were emphasizing the message: Exercise social distancing! The playground was fenced in and closed, and drivers were required to skip a space in parking their cars. (Cheryl Clough/AllOTSEGO.com)
There was no parade, and the crowds that usually cluster around the Memorial Walkway in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park were noticeably absent during the annual Memorial Day Celebration this morning. Above, Master of Ceremonies Les Grummons salutes as “Taps” is played for attendees, who brought wreathes and listened to a short speech from Mayor Gary Herzig. Following the ceremony, some members of the legion stopped by the home of John Forman, left, to salute him alongside fellow WWII veteran Fred Hicken. Returning to Legion Post 259, the veterans were surprised with complementary lunches from Brooks’ BBQ, courtesy of The Porch Fairies, anonymous donors who wanted to make sure veterans were honored. In addition to lunch, the Porch Fairies also dropped off gift cards for groceries for any veteran in need. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
ONEONTA – For Fred Hicken, a few post-graduation classes at Oneonta High School made all the
“I was 17 when I went to Albany to register for the Navy,” he said. “It was April 1945. I had graduated in 1944, but went back to take some business classes, including typing.”
As a result, he was assigned to personnel work stateside, avoiding the conflict.
Hicken is one of fewer than a dozen World War II veterans who remain in Oneonta. “We’ve lost quite a few over the last few years,” said Terry Harkenreader, Commander of the Oneonta American Legion. “We’re starting to lose Korea vets too.”
In Cooperstown, only three World War II era veterans remain. “Last year the Veterans’ Club attended two dozen funerals,” said Floyd Bourne, the club’s new commander. “It’s eating into our Vietnam veterans too.”
Ahead of next weekend’s Memorial Day services (see Page B1) Cooperstown volunteers placed more than 400 flags on the graves of service members; in Oneonta, more than 3,000 were placed.
In February 1946, Hicken was posted to the Sampson Naval Training Base near Geneva, at the top of Seneca Lake. “The Germans had given up, so I was assigned as a typist in the separation center,” he said. “I was working in a room with 30 other typists, typing up papers for Navy veterans returning from the Pacific Theater. “I was very fortunate; I had choice duty!”
Discharged that June, he signed up for the Reserves. He came back to Oneonta and enrolled at Hartwick College, but in November 1950, as the Korean War was starting, he was called back into service. “The last time I took the passenger train from Oneonta to Albany was that trip,” he said.
He was sent first to San Francisco, then to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. “Before I left, I went to a doctor and asked him for pills because I thought I would get seasick,” he said. “He gave me 100 pills. There wasn’t a sick bay on the aircraft carrier we took to Hawaii, so I gave away about 90 of those pills to the other guys.”
He was again assigned to office duty. “Going back to high school was a good choice,” he said. “It kept me from going to Korea.”
He worked in Pearl Harbor until he was discharged in June 1952 as yeoman, third class, when he returned to Oneonta. He met his wife Ellie at Hartwick in 1953, and they were married the following year. He worked for her father, Howard Brown, at his insurance agency, as well as serving as the manager of the Tri-County Motor Club.
John Foreman, Oneonta, also served in the Army, 24th Infantry, in World War II, from 1946 to 1948, stationed in southern Japan following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after VJ Day, Aug. 14, 1945. “The fighting was over, but the war wasn’t just yet,” he said. “I was never in combat because of that bomb.”
The village where he was stationed hadn’t been hit, but on the way there, he remembered seeing the devastation. “The train station looked like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “The top floor was lying on the ground, and if you could have picked it up, you could have fit it right back on top.”
Because the war was still not officially over when he arrived, soldiers were not allowed to go into town unaccompanied. “We couldn’t fraternize with the Japanese,” he said. “We couldn’t eat in their restaurants or drink in their bars. If you had to go into town, you had to go with someone else.”
Foreman was still in Japan on VE Day, May 6, 1945, and remained until the end of 1947. He went back to his native Kingston and moved to Oneonta in 1961, when he opened Medical Arts Pharmacy. He sold the business and retired in 1990.
And on the day he signed up, Fred also learned one more thing – that he had been going by the wrong name his whole life. “I’d always gone by Fredrick,” he said. “I gave the recruiter my birth certificate, and it said my name was just Fred!”
As two eagles circled, Oneonta’s Memorial Day celebration was conducted this morning at the memorial at the end of Veterans’ Memorial Walkway before the start of the parade. American Legion Commander Gary Ballard, top photo, oversees Troop 23 Boy Scouts Giovanni Hromada, Ben Casola, Kaleb Bergeron, Andrew Pierce, Caneb Casey and Noah Miller as they place wreaths at stations marking the different branches of the military. At right, OHS Valedictorian Aben Carrington recites Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address alongside Master of Ceremonies Les Grummons, to the crowds gathered in the park. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
The American Legion Color Guard – from left, Gary Walters, Gary Ballard, Tony Moore, Wayne Gregory, Terry Harkenreader and Harry Martin – marches down Main Street. during the Memorial Day parade this morning in Oneonta. They are followed by the rifle detail from Fort Drum that volunteered for the occasion, under the direction of Sgt. Ericson Brenner, son of Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner. Following the parade, crowds gathered at the Veterans’ Memorial in Neahwa Park for services honoring fallen soldiers, veterans and their families. At right, OHS Valedictorian Teagan Mackey recites Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to the crowd, including Lincoln look-alike Pete Lindemann, Cobleskill, foreground, who was dressed as the former President for the occasion. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)