After reading John J. McLeod’s letter to the editor June 3 (“Spectators and veterans missing on Memorial Day”), expressing dissatisfaction over Portland’s missing spectators and the lack of veterans marching in the Memorial Day parade, my initial thought was: Alas! How soon they forget!

As a World War II veteran, I experienced the same situation 15 years ago until I began marching in Galen Cole’s “Parade of the Veterans” in Bangor.

They include veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the global war on terror. They all march in separate blocks – with banners distinguishing the war in which they served.

For 19 years the three parades have been held on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. After showing proper military identification, each new veteran is issued a walking stick, crafted by Owen Gray and son, which earns him a free lunch later at the Cole Land Transportation Museum.

Buses are available for veterans unable to walk, so they can still view the sea of cheering spectators. There are several marching bands.

Each patriotic holiday, several thousand spectators line the route shouting and clapping with their families, with older folks perhaps thinking: “They sacrificed their youth for us and we remember” – as we file along to honor our great country.

Galen Cole, a Purple Heart (Eastern Theater Offensive) recipient, marches in our World War II section. Although this Memorial Day clearly showed our ranks are thinning, in a recent Veterans Day parade – perhaps to make up the difference – over 600 Vietnam veterans came to march proudly with their walking sticks.

Perhaps Mr. McLeod may choose to march in “the granddaddy of them all” – one of Cole’s three parades. They not only will leave him with a good feeling and offer him a change of venue, but his walking stick will earn him a free lunch at the museum.

Dick Goodie