For many, Memorial Day usually means a get together with family and friends, firing up a few burgers and hot dogs on the grill, sales at local retail and box stores, or a day at the beach. However, Memorial Day has a more important tradition and meaning, which Stratford residents have honored for generations with its parade and memorial services for those who have been lost in the call of duty protecting our liberties in foreign wars.
Traditionally, Stratford has celebrated the Memorial Day holiday with a grand parade down Main Street; starting in the historic district's Academy Hill and finishing at Paradise Green, along an approximate 2 mile march filled with Boy Scouts, Indian Guides, school sports and clubs, local community groups, and elected officials, as well as firefighters, police, EMTs and veterans, with a solemn remembrance of Stratford's fallen at the war monuments on Academy Hill starting around noon. This year, to accommodate family schedules, the memorial service will start at 10:30 am Monday morning. The parade will start around noon, as the parade route heads north from Academy Hill through Paradise Green.
"We really want people to keep in mind the true meaning of the day. Memorial Day is about memorializing those who didn't come home," said VFW Commander and veteran, Dick Kennedy. Kennedy is the parade organizer and Stratford's VFW Post has been a key volunteer organization supporting Stratford's Memorial Day events.
"Memorial Day is about honoring our fallen heroes who fought to keep our country free. Barbecues and picnics are great, but we really must strive to keep in mind the reason for the holiday. I am hopeful an earlier start time can equate to added participation by the community," said Mayor Harkins.