I remember as a young boy growing up in Manchester, I marched in my first Memorial Day Parade as a Cub Scout. I also had the privilege for 10 years to march as a member of Manchester Board of Directors. I know that there is a great deal of planing needed to organize Memorial Day activities. I asked Chair of the Manchester Permanent Memorial Day Committee, Col. Delia Lupacchino-Skrainski U.S. Army Ret., to share her thoughts about the work of the committee. She agreed to meet at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street along with two members of the Committee, Cmdr. Eileen Christensen, U.S. Coast Guard and David Morsey, U.S. Army Veteran and Past Commander of the American Legion.
Timothy Becker: Delia, how many members work on the committee and when does the committee start meeting to plan for Memorial Day?
Delia Lupacchino-Skrainski: We begin meeting in December of the previous year. There are twelve members and each individual is responsible for planning one of the activities. One activity is the planting of flowers that are provided by the school children at the Civil War Monument, the Spanish American War Monument, the DAR Memorial, and the American Revolution Monument in Center Park. In addition to planning the parade, over 5000 American Flags are placed on the Veterans graves in all town cemeteries by members of the American Legion, VFW, DAR, DAV, Marine Corps League and the Boy Scouts. Flags are placed beginning on the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day and are finished by Saturday afternoon. We work with the Cemetery Division to keep track of the Veterans graves.
Timothy Becker: What other activities are planned?
Delia Lupacchino-Skrainski: There is a Massing of the Colors Veterans Service on Sunday at 9:45 a.m. at the Church of the Living God at 199 Demming St. The service rotates among different churches in Manchester each year.
Timothy Becker: For those not familiar with the Manchester Memorial Day Parade, when is the start time and what is the route?
Delia Lupacchino-Skrainsk: The parade steps off in front of the Army and Navy Club at 1090 Main St. at 9:30 a.m. and heads north to the Vietnam Veterans Park, across from Mary Cheney Library. Wreaths are placed and there is a fly-over of military aircraft. The parade then heads east up East Center Street to Munro Park and wreaths are placed. Then the parade heads west to Center Park and marchers pass a reviewing stand in the park before being dismissed. There is also a speaking and music program after the parade and Taps is played by members of the Marching Band. This year the youth speaker is East Catholic High School Junior Allessandra Zaccardelli and the keynote speaker is Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy.
Timothy Becker: David, how did you get involved in the Memorial Day Committee?
David Morsey: At age 11 I was asked by Harold “Curly” Olds to help place the flags on Veterans graves and I have been doing it ever since. I have never watched a parade. I have always been involved. I marched as a scout, then as a Veteran.
Timothy Becker: Eileen, how did you get involved?
Eileen Christensen: I was asked to help organize the youth and scouts division 25 years ago. I am still handling that activity. It is a way for me to give back to my community.
Timothy Becker: How did you get involved Delia?
Delia Lupacchino-Skrainski: I was the keynote speaker in 2002. Chief of Staff Kip Miller asked me to join the committee. I am now serving a one year term as chair. The chair rotates among the members.
Timothy Becker: What is your motivation for volunteering many hours, organizing the Memorial Day events?
Delia Lupacchino-Skrainsk: The people that work the hardest and the reason that the parade exists is because they have given their lives for the town of Manchester and their country.
We honor all the service men and women that have died in all our wars; the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil war, the Spanish American War, World War I, Word War II, Korea, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. The parade has a great deal of meaning to me.