Balmy November weather greeted the hundreds of area veterans and active military members gathered to walk in the Veterans Day parade on Friday in Brewer and Bangor, alongside their loved ones and supporters.
Veterans who served in conflicts as recent as the Global War on Terrorism and in the Vietnam and Korean wars and World War II marched proudly from Brewer, across the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and down Main Street in Bangor, as did members of local JROTC and ROTC programs at area schools and colleges.
Ret. Lt. Col. Darrell Lyons, JROTC instructor at Bangor High School, said that this year’s parade was a welcome return to normalcy after two pandemic years during which the parade was first not held, and was then held in a socially distanced fashion last year. The Bangor JROTC organizes the parade every year.
“Everybody has responded really positively and we were really anxious to get back to recognizing our veterans in the way they deserve to be,” Lyons said. “It’s been a wonderful response and we have a bigger crowd this year than we did last year.”
At left: Shirley Daly, 4, and her brother Mason, 8, wave to veterans passing by on Wilson Street in Brewer during the annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022; at right: Veterans shake hands with parade goers along Wilson Street in Brewer in the annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
Grand Marshall for the parade this year was Lt. Gen. Walter Ulmer, a 1947 graduate of Bangor High School with a distinguished 33-year career in the U.S. Army. Among his many accomplishments, Ulmer was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for heroism when in 1970 he and his team were surrounded for 64 days during a major battle in Vietnam, resulting in a strategic defeat for North Vietnamese forces.
Ulmer highlighted Maine’s long tradition of military service in his remarks during the parade, noting that there are currently 105,000 veterans in Maine, making it the state with the fifth highest share of veterans among its population.
Clockwise, from left: Olivia Veves, 14, rides in the back of her parents, Steve and Jessie Veves, ’51 Chevy 3100 in the annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022; WWII veteran Edward Hendrickson of Bangor has participated in the annual Bangor-Brewer Veterans Day Parade since 1997. Hendrickson, who was a Navy pilot on the USS Ticonderoga, will turn 102 on Monday; Korean War veteran Mike Bragdon of Millinocket rests his hands on his veteran walking stick before the start of the annual Veterans Day Parade. Veterans who served our country are eligible for a free Maine Maple Walking Stick from the Cole Museum in appreciation for their service. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
“Maine has always been more than the average bear when it comes to service,” Ulmer said. “Those of us from the Korean and Vietnam eras are not getting any younger, so it is wonderful to see everyone here.”
Among the community organizations represented in the parade was the Cole Land Transportation Museum, which displayed its Freedom Bell, a giant bell that has led World War II veterans in the Veterans, Memorial Day and Independence Day parades in Bangor for the past 27 years. When World War II ended in 1945, bells rang out in every town and city across the country.
There were just 167,284 World War II veterans still alive as of September 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, out of the 16 million who served in the war. Six of those veterans marched in Friday’s parade.