The city of Gloucester's ill-conceived plan to somehow make today's Memorial Day ceremonies "more inclusive" by cutting the parade march to the Vietnam Memorial out of the official program was nothing short of an embarrassment.
And thankfully, Mayor Carolyn Kirk — upon further review and an understandable outcry from veterans, Vietnam and otherwise - reversed her decision.
So today's Gloucester Memorial Day parade and programs, starting for the first time on Harbor Loop and carrying down Main Street to Western Avenue and the World War II Memorial at Kent Circle, will indeed reform and continue on to the Vietnam Memorial at Gloucester High School. That's where Vietnam vet and local attorney Mark Nestor will lead ceremonies that will recognize this as the 50-year anniversary of America's plunge into the war that would change a generation.
Yet, the flap that ensued over the parade route and program for a few days last week may have at least had one positive effect. It may have, more than in the past, focused residents' attention on today's Memorial Day ceremonies — and on the importance of recognizing the immense sacrifice that Gloucester's own have made in the name of serving their country.
That sacrifice can never be forgotten. Of the 5,665 Gloucester to men and women who fought in World War II — 22 percent of the city's population at the time — some 115 of them never returned. And the Vietnam War claimed 11 more sons of Gloucester — making it all the more appropriate that the memorial be at the high school.
Today is indeed the day to honor and remember all of those who have given their lives to defend our country — and to thank those veterans who fought and, while fortunate enough to return, lost so any colleagues and friends and have dealt with the scars of war ever since.
There are commemorative parades and ceremonies today in all four of our Cape Ann communities — and all deserve the spotlight of public attention.
Take the time today to recognize the true meaning of Memorial Day. Please give these ceremonies — and the veterans who are part of them — the respect and honor they deserve.