Memorial Day in Goshen began at 7:00 a.m. on May 30 with Memorial Honor Guard services at a sequence of cemeteries, beginning with St. John’s Cemetery on Main Street. They continued at the St. James Columbarium, on St. James Street, St. James Cemetery on South Street, Slate Hill Cemetery on Old Chester Road, Orange County Veterans Cemetery on Craigville Road, Minisink Monument and the Orange Blossoms Monument, both on Main Street.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1708 and American Legion Post 377 had collaborated to honor soldiers who died fighting for democracy.
The day’s events continued with a Memorial Day Parade proceeding down Main Street, ending at the Everett War Memorial Monument in Village Park. Parade spectators then gathered at the monument for a somber ceremony of honor and gratitude.
As emcee, Jim Heslop, Commander of Goshen American Legion Post 377greeted everyone and invited Rev. Rhonda Myers, Interim Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen, to deliver the invocation.
“We will remember that war is costly; the price paid in priceless lives cut short,” said Myers. “Share with me in remembering those who served this nation so faithfully.”
Saying that they put themselves in harm’s way so we can live in peace, she advised, “Work for peace in our own lives and in our community.”
Goshen High School Junior and National Honor Society member Jolina Dong led the audience in the Pledge of Alliance, speaking with feeling in a clear, strong voice. The Goshen Varsity Choir, led by Christine Scully, followed with a compelling rendering of the National Anthem.
Said Heslop, “We are here today to honor and remember those that have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in freedom Let us never forget they fought and died for us and for our country.”
Asking children 13 years old and under to stand, he said, “It’s significant that we recognize the children present today.”
He noted that they would likely continue attending such events , having begun early.
Guest speaker Staff Sergeant William Hanford, with the NY Army National Guard in Middletown, began his talk, “We’re here today to honor our heroes, remember their achievements and their dedication and to say ‘thank you.’”
He noted that these patriots are from all walks of life, but they share fundamental qualities—courage, pride, determination, selflessness, and dedication to duty and integrity.
“They are ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways. They rose to the nation’s call. We honor their bravery, but nothing can replace the hole left from a fallen service member,” said Staff Sergeant Hanford.
This year’s Grand Marshal, Wendy Bynum-Wade, a lifelong Goshen resident and editor of the Goshen Independent, calling Goshen “a pretty darn nice place,” said, “I love Goshen and everything about it. If there’s something we don’t like, we can change it.”
Although not a veteran herself, she added, “I’m a very proud daughter, mother, niece, and sister to veterans who have all served. I honor all those who gave their lives so we can do what we want.”
Bynum-Wade is the second member of her family to be honored as Grand Marshal of the Memorial Day parade. Her late father, Charles W. Bynum, a gunner and bombardier in the U.S. Marine Corps and a veteran of WW II and the Korean War, was grand marshal in 2009.
Boy Scouts Michael Lombardi and Zachary Miller, from Troop 62, read the names of Goshen citizens who were killed in action in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq.
Commander Ray Quattrini, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1708, spoke vehemently. “Our fragile democracy is only secured by those willing to fight and die for it,” he said, adding, that “the world has witnessed the aggression of a Soviet regime fueled by lust engaging in a merciless assault on a peaceful and democratic nation. We are sincere in our quest for peace.”
Bringing the ceremony to a conclusion, Colin Ahern sang “God Bless America, followed by a gun salute by the combined Goshen AL/VFW Color Guard using 1903 Springfield rifles—carried by American soldiers in WW I. Taps was then played by buglers Michael Lombardi and Ahmed Arif.