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Paying respects

Roscoe’s Memorial Day procession this year honors a national, and community, tradition of service... and a family’s deep beliefs

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/20/20

ROSCOE, NY — This year it will be more of a procession than a parade, said Karrie Jara.

She’s organizing the Memorial Day observance in Roscoe this year. Yes, it’s still …

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currents

Paying respects

Roscoe’s Memorial Day procession this year honors a national, and community, tradition of service... and a family’s deep beliefs

Posted

ROSCOE, NY — This year it will be more of a procession than a parade, said Karrie Jara.

She’s organizing the Memorial Day observance in Roscoe this year. Yes, it’s still happening. Those who would normally watch the parade will line up in their cars on Gulf Road at 9:45 a.m. and slowly drive down the procession route on Main Street, past military memorabilia. The marchers might be there in the vehicles that, in years past, rolled down Main Street, just standing watch as parade-goers pay tribute.

Memorial Day, and the Roscoe parade, have meant a great deal to the family. “My brother Fritz did it for years, and it’s my daughter who took it over for the last three years,” said Jara’s father, Ralph Kirchner.

His brother, Fred “Fritz” Kirchner, was proud of his community and his time in the military—he served in the Army in Vietnam—and showed it by membership in the Harold Wood VFW Post #5911 and in the Roscoe Memorial Day parade, as well as the American Legion and other community groups..

But when Fred Kirchner died in 2016, a void was left. So Karrie Jara stepped in.

“I’d helped my uncle get everything organized” when he managed the parade, she said.

 Jara cares deeply about veterans, her father said, and she has been involved in Honor Flight, a program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the war memorials there.

“I couldn’t not do this for my uncle,” she said. “I promised him I’d never let Memorial Day be forgotten... Memorial Day, to me, is the day I reflect on honor and mourn the brave military personnel who fought for my freedom in America. A day to remember the sacrifices they have made for our country and [me]. I need to give back to them, so they will be remembered and not forgotten.”

Coronavirus has upended everything, including Memorial Day parades. But “Roscoe is still thinking of our veterans and those who gave their lives,” Kirchner said. “We talked about it. What were we going to do?”

They wanted to keep spectators safe, and they wanted to keep the veterans and other parade-participants safe, too.

He and Jara tossed ideas around and finally settled on a different sort of memorial, with the spectators driving down Main Street to view collected items that evoke peoples’ war service and those veterans who have died. “Maybe [those attending] can stop, say a prayer,” said Kirchner.

Those who would normally march may be present in their vehicles, he added. “There are no speeches, but it’s still observing Memorial Day and recognizing our veterans.”

Jara is still collecting items, so if anyone wants to contribute something to the memorabilia they should get in touch with her (see contact information below).

Lineup for the procession begins at 9:45 a.m. and the procession begins at 10.

If you can’t make it to the Roscoe procession, or if you want to add your own Memorial Day observance afterward, Frank Geosits of the Allan Milk Memorial Post #7276 in Long Eddy has a suggestion. Talking about how he honors veterans, he said, “My personal gratification during this time is placing American flags on veteran graves in our area.”

In the past, of course, we could attend parades and graveside services.

The parades this year will be fewer and very different. The services may be via Zoom. But a cemetery visit can be done in solitude.

“‘We pay our respects to our departed comrades,’”Geosits said, sharing an anonymous quote. “‘In so doing we offer solemn tribute to all comrades wherever they may rest.’”

Local memorials can be visited alone—even when the memorial is something large, like a bridge.

Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation renaming the Basket Viaduct bridge on Route 97 after Specialist Allan Milk, from Fremont, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1966. The legislation was co-sponsored by Assemblymember Aileen Gunther and Sen. Jen Metzger. A dedication ceremony, scheduled for this spring, had to be postponed due to coronavirus.

 But the bridge is there, a silent reminder of what Memorial Day means.

For information about the Roscoe parade, call Karrie Jara at 845/665-4218.

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