Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local veterans groups are calling on grateful citizens to remember both fallen and forsaken heroes at this year’s Memorial Day celebration.
Honorary Grand Marshal Raymond D. Pierce, a Vietnam veteran, said the groups are taking up a canned goods collection along the parade route, on behalf of disabled and/or homeless veterans.
Participants and observers of the Sunday parade, from the Veterans Memorial on East Avenue to the county courthouse on Hawley Street, are all asked to bring a canned good to the parade.
Representatives of VFW Post 2535, American Legion Post 410 and the Navy Marine Club will collect donations from the sidelines as the parade proceeds along East Avenue and Main Street beginning at 1 p.m.
The drive is on behalf of the estimated 2,000 Niagara County residents who are veterans, disabled and/or homeless, Pierce said.
Veterans and civic groups, churches, schools and businesses are working together on the drive, which runs through July 1. The proceeds are to be distributed to local veterans in need on July 6, in conjunction with the Homeless Veterans of Western New York’s annual fundraiser at the Lockport Elks Lodge.
Mobilizing public support for veterans in need is a passion for Pierce, 64, a city resident who was selected as this year’s parade honorary grand marshal in recognition of his distinguished military service, his longtime leadership of VFW Post 2535 and his community activism, particularly in veterans outreach.
Pierce rallies for men and women whom, as a group, he knows are often too proud to ask for a lift when they need it.
“These men and women who come home today, they don’t get any help anymore,” he said. “A lot of veterans don’t come forward; they’re private people.”
Pierce served in the Marines from 1968 to 1971 and pulled a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he earned the Good Conduct Medal, a Purple Heart, the Expert Rifleman Medal, Navy Commendation and Vietnamese Commendation Medal.