Sen. Angus King tosses a wreath from the Frank J. Wood Bridge between Topsham and Brunswick during 2015’s Memorial Day parade. File photo

After two years of hosting a virtual event, the Brunswick-Topsham Memorial Day Committee will host its annual Memorial Day Parade in person Monday, May 30.

The committee stated in a press release that with the help of military service personnel, veterans, school and civic groups, community groups and municipal leaders, “We will be honoring those who gave their last full measure of devotion.”

Parade Committee Director Tasha Connors said over the last two years, Memorial Day events were held virtually on the committee’s website, Facebook page and on local cable TV.

“We the committee are very excited to get back to the traditional format for the parade and observances. However, we are aware that the pandemic is not over and encourage the communities to be respectful of each other and their individual concerns.”

Veteran Richard “Archie” Pelley of Topsham will serve as this year’s Grand Marshal.

After 28 years in the Coast Guard, Pelley retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 and was awarded a bronze star after serving two tours in Vietnam. Pelly was born and raised in Lisbon Falls and now resides in Topsham with his wife Barbara.

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Vietnam Veteran, Archie Pelley of Topsham.  Photo by Maria Skillings / Times Record

“Archie Pelley was nominated by several members of the committee based on his exemplary military service, his appreciation of heritage and his connection to the community,” Connors said. “He is a lifelong supporter and participant of Memorial Day events throughout the years and fought in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard response.”

In addition to serving as this year’s grand marshal, Pelley is preparing to take an honor flight on May 27 to Washington D.C. There Pelley will be escorted to U.S. memorial monuments alongside his fellow veterans.

“I’m honored I got picked to go,” said Pelley.

Since 2005, the Honor Flight Network has selected 245,178 U.S. veterans to take this flight, according to the Honor Flight Network’s website.

Pelley said Memorial Day is a wonderful thing. “We are honoring those that didn’t make it,” he said.

At the age of 91, Pelley jested that he hopes the parade committee will provide a red Cadillac convertible and three women in bikinis to help escort him down the parade route.

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As a child, Pelley said he and his friends idolized the veterans who served in World War I. He remembers attending the parade as a child and being given a small American flag by the veterans and waving it proudly.

“They were our heroes,” he said.

Many war veterans who served in Korea, WWII and Vietnam are now gone, Pelley said.

Concerned that Memorial Day doesn’t mean as much to people anymore, Pelley said he hopes the younger generation will take an interest in this year’s parade.

For VFW member Roger Stevens, Memorial Day is a day of solitude and deep thought.

“For me, it’s a day to reflect and remember those I knew, who gave all, and to be thankful to all who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our country. My wife and I typically spend Memorial Day in the Maine woods, on a lake, with a fishing pole,” said Stevens.

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Pastor Mark Rockwood of Berean Baptist Church in Brunswick and a former member of the Brunswick Downtown Association said he is grateful the parade is back in person again.

“I have a profound appreciation and respect for our military and their families. The Memorial Day Parade, in my humble opinion, is the least we can do to show our veterans and their families our deepest gratitude for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we hold so dear,” said Rockwood.

Events will begin at 8:45 a.m. Monday at the Topsham Town Hall. The parade will begin immediately after the Topsham observance and travel down Main Street, crossing the Frank J. Wood Bridge.

The procession will pause for a wreath-laying before continuing down Main St. in Brunswick. Once the parade concludes, the Brunswick observance begins at the Brunswick Mall gazebo. The event will finish with a wreath-laying at the Veteran’s Memorial Square.

For more information about the parade visit memorialdaycommittee.org

This story was updated at 1 p.m. May 24 to correct the branch of the armed forces in which Pelley served.

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