MERIDEN — About 50 people attended a small Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the American Legion Post 45 building, some watching the speeches, wreath laying and rifle salute from their vehicles.
The city had canceled its annual Memorial Day parade due to the statewide bans on large gatherings.
Despite the absence of a parade, this year’s remembrance wasn’t too different from previous years, said City Councilor Bob Williams, American Legion Post 45 commander.
The parade usually concludes with a ceremony organized by the Legion post on the Meriden Green, but this year it was staged at the hall on Hanover Road instead.
Williams said the presence of the Antique Veterans of Meriden Honor Guard, which performed the color guard and rifle salute, was especially poignant given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has been more deadly among the elderly population.
“Most of these guys are in their 80s,” Williams said. “I told them certainly they didn’t need to come out, obviously, because of the pandemic, and they insisted on being here.”
Some of the parade traditions were maintained.
Williams recognized four brothers — Peter, Tony, Don and Bob Jandreau, all of whom served in the U.S. Army between 1957 and 1974 — who would have been the parade grand marshals. He also gave a posthumous remembrance speech about Walter Shamock Jr., a city councilor for 30 years and Korean War veteran who died in December.
Morgan Morenz, an autistic woman who fundraises for the Legion post by selling her artwork, read a speech she composed in 15 minutes, saying that the words came to her quickly.
“To all the fallen soldiers who died during war, and to all of us who grieve over them, in various cultures this is the way of the warrior,” she said in her speech.
Other speakers included Tom Skibicki, George DeLauri, Gayne Sullivan and Debbie Elliott.
Other towns marked Memorial Day on Monday with small, private ceremonies.
In Wallingford, the town Veterans Memorial Committee taped a memorial service on Sunday that was broadcast on Wallingford Government Television Monday. It’s slated to be rerun throughout the week, and is available on the WGTV YouTube channel.
In Southington, American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 live streamed its ceremony via Facebook from the front of its building.
The Cheshire Veterans Council was scheduled to hold a private wreath-laying ceremony on the Cheshire Congregational Church Green.
Memorial Day is held on the last Monday of May in honor of those who died while serving. Veterans still living are honored on Veterans Day every November.