Bridesburg’s salute to the fallen is full of feeling

The Philadelphia region doesn’t have a central Memorial Day parade, but features many regional celebrations.   

The Bridesburg Memorial Day remembrance was one of the biggest ones today.

It included everything from solemn ceremonies at Holy Redeemer Cemetery to a parade on Richmond Street featuring everything from military equipment to Boy Scouts to marching bands.

One of the many veterans attending was Marge Chimelewski. She’s a retired Navy Bomb technician who has been taking part in the parade for 65 years.  She said people don’t think enough about the real meaning of the holiday.

“A lot of people think it’s a big picnic,” she said. “No, it’s not a picnic; it’s not a picnic to us. These are the men and women who gave their lives for our country.”

Retired First Sgt. Gary Spiecker served in both Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm as a Marine.  He wants people to remember the values for which he and his fallen comrades risked their lives: 

“We don’t realize in this country the freedom that we have as an Americans.  It’s so important that we should realize that there is no other country that offers things like our freedom of speech, freedom of religious practices and everything like that.”

Vietnam War veteran John Warton said he will never forget his combat time “in country,” especially the death of two of his friends.

“One actually died in my arms,” Wharton recalled. “What was so sad about it he was just there one minute laughing and joking, and then he was gone. He died almost instantly.”

The older veterans worry about the young men serving now in the military overseas, asking: Will crowds still gather to honor them at future parades?

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