Valhalla residents lined a damp Columbus Avenue Monday morning as the American Legion Post 1038 led a procession of veterans and other service men and women to kick off the Memorial Day Parade.
The annual parade began at 9:30 a.m. on Westlake Drive and descended on the Village Green for the 10 a.m. ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Post Commander Phil Adimari reflected on the 1.3 million men and women who have died in battle since the country's founding.
"We must honor and remember our fallen, but that is not enough," Adimari said. He added, "The lives saved are their legacy."
The guest speaker, Mike Tillson, was one of those lives saved during a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Tillson explained, pausing frequently to collect himself, his battalion stationed in the country's capitol of Kandahar, included two men who graduated from West Point with him in 2008. One fell to a secondary roadside bomb, while the other was shot and killed by Taliban forces trying to advance on their battalion.
"Memorial Day has become something more to me," Tillson said. "It wasn't 1.3 million Americans who died in combat, it was my friends."
Tillson's emotional address received a loud, lengthy applause.
"Any of you young people out there looking for a hero, there's one," he said, as members of Post 1038 embraced their youngest member.
Earlier, the president of the Post 1038 Auxiliary , Kathleen Hurley foreshadowed Tilson's remarks.
"Memorial Day is so much more than a three-day weekend for barbeque and stock sales," she said. "The bible tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Our fallen comrades have demonstrated that love and that is what Memorial Day is all about."
Did you go to the parade? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.