Above: City Council President Darlene Harris read a poem at the Memorial Day program at Legion Park on May 28, 2012. (Photo by Kelsey Shea).
The last weekend in May, about 100 Brightwood and Brighton Heights neighbors came out to celebrate its 64th annual Memorial Day program in Legion Park.
Monday’s program included speeches by local veterans, remembrance of others, songs, the pledge of allegiance, a formal flag raising and a flyover by a C-130 jet.
The Wednesday before Memorial Day, members of the Elks, students from Pressley Ridge and Oliver’s JROTC program spent this afternoon placing about 3,000 American flags on the graves of veterans and fallen soldiers in Highwood Cemetery.
“These heroes of yesterday are at times forgotten,” said program coordinator Joe Brown. “At times like Memorial Day, we take the opportunity to show them the respect they rightfully deserve.”
For others in attendance, it was a way to remember Northsiders who had served our country in combat.
Brighton Heights resident Donna Weaver comes each year to remember her Uncle, whose name is listed on the Legion Park WWII monument, but also to honor her father.
“It means a lot to us to come out here each year,” said Weaver, whose father would bring her to the park to leave a flower and say a prayer for his brother. “My father is no longer with us, so I do it in memory of him now too.”
This year’s ceremony specifically honored Northside WWII veteran John Pugliano.
Pugliano died last year at age 90. He was a member of the American Legion and was known for adamantly insisting and ardently working to put flags on the graves of veterans in the Northside every year for Memorial Day.
His nephew Peter Payne spoke at the program on behalf of his uncle who fought in Italy and Germany during WWII. As well as telling stories from his uncle’s days in combat, he also reflected on his dedication to honoring veterans.
“I would like to thank everyone at the American Legion for having this service for Uncle Johnny,” he said. “He took it personally when a vet didn’t have a flag on his grave, and he made a point to do something about it.”