[Memorial Day, 2021. The Buffalo Soldiers of VFW Post 9251 Pennington-Moye striking the colors at the ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial in Brighton’s Buckland Park. All photos by David Kramer]
Last year, no Memorial Day parades were held and public events were strictly limited with required masking and social distancing. As we honored our fallen soldiers, Memorial Day 2021 under sunny skies felt like a day of deliverance after a year of much loss.
In the 2pm ceremony at Buckland Park, the Buffalo Soldiers of VFW Post 9251 were the honorary Color Guards. Especially for me, they stole the show.
Yesterday, in “Pioneer for Black police officers guarded King one night in 1958” and more on Captain Charles Price (1923 – 2021), I wrote about Captain Charles “Charlie” Price, the first Black man to join the Rochester Police Department, who died at age 98 two weeks ago. Price was a member of Post 9251.
In 2015, in his Henrietta home, I met Captain Price, dressed sharply in his blue, authentic looking Buffalo Soldier uniform on the way to a re-enactment in, yes, Buffalo. Today, post member Bing C. Reaves Sr said Charlie was active in the unit basically up to the end. Actually, a January 2020 post event coincided with Price’s 98th birthday, unknown to the unit. When the fact was discovered, the event was adjourned and Charlie was taken to the Outback Steak House where the Buffalo Soldiers bought him the biggest T-bone in the house.
Memorial Day, 2021. The Buffalo Soldiers of VFW Post 9251 Pennington-Moye
Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle was master of ceremonies. Near closing, he read John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” (1915).
“In Flanders Fields,” a war poem in the form of a rondeau, was written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London magazine Punch. Flanders Fields is a common English name of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and France. (wikipedia) Inscription of the complete poem in a bronze book at the John McCrae memorial at his birthplace in Guelph, Ontario.
(above left) Brighton Town Councilmember Robin Wilt and New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney (D, 56th district). Today was special for Robin as her son recently graduated from West Point; (above right) Albert Blankley, Democratic candidate for Monroe County Legislature (District 24); (below) You’ve met Robin and Albert canvassing in my neighborhood in On the electoral road with Robin Wilt and On the electoral road with Albert Blankley
The 1pm ceremonies at Highland Park were well attended as many strolled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The champlain did strike a somber note when he asked us the remember the many veterans who were victims of the pandemic.
Red poppies were set on the bench in the Veteran’s Garden and an American flag fastened to wreath made of twigs was placed around the gun of the life sized bronze sculpture of an American Vietnam War soldier carved by Wayne Williams in 1996.
I followed the Gates Keystone Club POLICE Pipes and Drums band as they marched and played from the top of the memorial, down through the timeline and the 280 bollards, representing the men killed in action or designated missing in action, then congregating under trees next to the Learning Center where they continued to play on cue.
Members of the Gates, New York Police Department founded the Gates Keystone Club POLICE Pipes and Drums in 1998. Founding members of the Band realized there was no ceremonial police pipe band in the area to honor public safety and military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice. In the early years of the Band members had little or no musical experience and learned the pipes and drums with lessons provided by professionals or on there own. The early uniform was that of the police department, kilts came later. Today the Band has come together as a professional unit and performs at over 100 events each year in Western and Central New York. Our services are offered to all first responders and military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The band was excited to perform in its first major event since the pandemic. At the same time, echoing the sentiments of the chaplain, one man said this year the club offered far too many funeral services for military personnel and veterans.
The Keystone Club is the name of the union representing members of the Gates Police Department and the Club sponsors the Band. The Band has 52 members from the local police, fire, ems and military communities. In addition there are several dedicated members of the civilian community. “In Onoraigh Ar Marbh”, “We Honor Our Fallen” See In Search of Irishness
On the day to remember its fallen, Brightonian Slagana Avramoska Mitris reflects on what Memorial Day means to her.
On Veteran’s Day at Buckland and Highland Parks. And the Moral Equivalent of War
On the Memorial Day Parade and The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam