Princeton remembers the fallen

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Many lined the edge and sidewalks of Nassau Street waving American flags for Princeton’s annual Memorial Day Parade to remember the fallen men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving their country.

“We are here today as Veterans Day remembers the living; Memorial Day remembers those who are no longer with us,” said Col. Bill Putnam, Princeton’s parade grand marshal, who served tours in the United Kingdom, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

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“I ask all of you to do one thing to please remember those who are no longer with us. One thing they would want is to not be forgotten.”

Col. Bill Putnam (center), parade grand marshal, delivers his remarks on Memorial Day at Monument Hall in Princeton.

Visitors to the parade, which was sponsored by the Spirit of Princeton, had lined both sides of Nassau Street when the parade groups made their way from the corner of Princeton Avenue and Nassau Street on May 27.

Along the route, participating groups ranged from the Princeton American Legion Post, MacGregor Pipe Band, to the Crescent Shrine, who drove mini cars around in circles as they proceeded with the route. The Princeton Police Department and Colonial Musketeers waved, played music, and honked horns.

Trenton ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) marching in Memorial Day Parade.
Princeton Girlchoir wave American flags during Memorial Day Parade on Nassau Street.
Crescent Shrine Mini Car Unit rides around parade route on Nassau Street waving to residents and visitors.

The parade which made its way to Monumental Hall was followed by a brief ceremony and laying of the wreath at the Princeton Battle Monument.

Col. Bill Putnam (left) helps place a wreath at the Princeton Battle Monument.
2023 Princeton Memorial Day Parade and ceremony.

“This weekend is about remembering those who do not have the opportunity to continue forward and celebrate,” Putnam said. “Men and women who had dreams that they did not get to fulfill. We should remember if we are feeling down, we need to honor them by living our lives, because they sacrificed for us to be able to do that.”

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a national holiday, which was held on May 29.

“Memorial Day is about remembering our fallen heroes. Those who were brave enough to risk their lives or give their lives for our freedom,” Princeton resident Jim Constantine said. “I hope people take away from this weekend the action of remembering those who serve us.”

Ken Brightbill, also a Princeton resident, said he hopes people respect America when they take part in Memorial Day weekend and Memorial Day.

For those attending the parade and ceremony in Princeton, Memorial Day has a deep and personal meaning.

“Memorial Day means sacrifice for my freedom and that people gave up their lives not just for me, but for everybody. This is just really personal,” said Richard Swanson, an East Windsor resident. “It started a long time ago and will continue as long as that flag is still waving. People have to sacrifice to keep it waving.”

He added that during the weekend people should take a moment or some time to remember the fallen heroes of our country.

“They deserve to be honored for the way we live, what we do, what we think, what we say,” Swanson said. “It gives me hope to see so many people out here today. The American Dream is not over, it continues from generation to generation.”

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