Chicopee honors the fallen through Memorial Day programs

May 23, 2023 | Lauren LeBel

A photo from one of last year’s Memorial Day observances.
Reminder Publishing file photo

CHICOPEE — In observance of Memorial Day, the city of Chicopee has several events lined up.

Prior to May 29, Veterans Director Stephanie Shaw said all cemeteries will have been flagged. “The deputy director [and] graves officer oversees this effort with the support of my department and coordinates with volunteers to ensure that we have flagged our veterans’ graves throughout the 11 cemeteries,” she shared.

On Thursday, May 25, at 6 p.m., the Veteran’s Services Department and Mayor John Vieau’s Office will host the Charles H. Tracy Award Ceremony in the Chicopee City Hall auditorium. Here, Veteran of the Year Brian Belanger will be honored. “The Patriotic and Memorial Committee — which is comprised of delegates from each of the nine veteran associations in the city — submits nominations to my department for review and selection with collaboration with the Mayor’s Office,” Shaw said. Belanger will participate in the Memorial Day program and Chicopee Day at the Big E.

On Friday, May 26, at 8:30 a.m., local veteran organizations will be visiting Chicopee elementary and middle schools for a memorial service, brief history of Memorial Day and the placing of a wreath at school flag poles. This will be followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem. This is the only event that will not be open to the public.

On Sunday, May 28, at the Vietnam Veterans’ Plaza on Chicopee Street, there will be a candlelight ceremony at 7 p.m. hosted by the Vietnam Veterans of Western Massachusetts Chapter 111.

Lastly, on Monday, May 29, at 10:30 a.m., there will be an annual Memorial Day ceremony with the wreath laying at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, 460 Front St. Shaw said they have a program this year that will last about an hour and a half with the school bands, legislator speakers, guest speakers, singers and end with the wreath laying and taps.

Shaw said the Memorial Day ceremony typically attracts between 100 and 150 people.

“People have been coming together in community spirit and national unity for all generations of loved ones lost in service to be remembered on this very special day since 1868 and is no different in 2023, 155 years later. I am proud to be a part of the planning and organization of this year’s events and look forward to sharing with all of you who will be joining us to celebrate here in Chicopee,” said Shaw.

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