Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 23, 2013

Drafted to lead

By Joyce M. Miles joyce.miles@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

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.

He’s a member of B. Leo Dolan post, American Legion, the Navy Marine Club and the Loyal Order of the Moose, in addition to VFW Post 2535, where he recently stepped down from the commander’s post after 13 years. As the senior vice commander now, he said he’ll have more time to devote to his No. 1 cause, assisting homeless and disabled veterans.

Pierce is inviting all Vietnam veterans, and veterans from all eras, to walk with him or ride the Lockport Trolley in the first division at the Memorial Day parade. The grand marshal gets a car at the head of the procession, but Pierce won’t be using it.

“There’s a lot of veterans worse off than me. If they can walk, so can I,” he said.

Parade spectators are asked to carry U.S. flags if they have them.

•••

This year’s Memorial Day parade is hosted by the Navy Marine Club. Groups of all kinds — neighbors, school kids, church groups, etc. — and individuals are still able to sign up to march or ride in it.

For an application, visit or call the club, 37 Park Ave., 433-2457; call organizing committee chairman Sid Parish at 433-6795; or call committee member Peggy Allen at 434-9708.

The committee issued a subtle reminder that Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember the sacrifices of citizens who died while in military service.

The parade is “a solemn celebration, patriotic, and a little bit more delicate than the usual celebration,” Allen said. Parade units are asked to comply with the policies listed on the parade application.

Parade assembly will begin at noon Sunday at the Veterans Memorial, East Avenue across from Eastern Niagara Hospital. The walk to the county courthouse begins at 1 p.m. A public reception will be held afterward at the Navy Marine Club.

•••

Prior to the parade, a procession of veterans and civilian volunteers will gather at 8 a.m. at the Navy Marine Club to begin a series of wreath laying ceremonies at all of the monuments in the city.

Estimated ceremony start times are: 8:25 a.m., St. Patrick’s cemetery; 8:35 a.m., Glenwood Cemetery; 8:45 a.m., Outwater Park; 9 a.m., Ida Fritz Park; 9:15 a.m., Grossi Park; 9:30 a.m., Summit Park; 9:45 a.m., Altro Park; and 10 a.m., Veterans Park.

A formal memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. at Cold Springs Cemetery.

Observances set around the area Memorial Day ceremonies also are taking place this holiday weekend at: • Mount View Cemetery, Upper Mountain Road, Pekin, Monday morning. A processional march to the cemetery begins at Pekin Fire Hall at 9:30 a.m. • Somerset Town Park, 8700 Haight Road, Barker, 10 a.m. Monday. Music is by the Barker Community Band. The WNY Young Marines will carry the flags. Army Major Nathan Mann, a Barker native and West Point graduate, is the guest speaker. • Greenwood Veterans Memorial Park, Wilson, 10 a.m. Monday. Live music is by Olivia Goode, the Thomas Marks Elementary School band and the Retired Men's Service Club of Niagara Chorus. State Assembly Member Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, is the guest speaker. • Corwin Cemetery, Route 78 and Hatter Road, Newfane, 11 a.m. Monday. • Parade in Middleport, beginning at the fire hall on Main Street, noon Monday. All service personnel are invited to join in. A memorial service will follow at the village common.