Derry Observes Memorial Day with Parade and Service

Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien - 6/1/2017

Under the combined direction of the American Legion Post 9, the VFW Post 1617, Derry Parks and Recreation, and Derry Cable Television, Memorial Day Observances were held in MacGregor Park on May 29 after the Memorial Day Parade.

Nancy Geary’s only child, Lance Corporal Michael E. Geary, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December of 2010.

Recently, she saw a woman and her young daughter pointing and laughing at the Gold Star Mother emblem on her car. Being a Gold Star Mother means that she has lost a child in service to our country, it’s not an indication that her child was student of the month. Geary wonders if the woman and her daughter thought she was bragging about a school award, and were laughing for that reason. It’s hard to imagine how anyone who knows what it means to be Gold Star Mother would be so cruel.

Geary says she wishes more people were aware of what the term means so that things like that wouldn’t happen. While holding a bouquet of yellow roses a new friend had given her while she was honored in the Memorial Day Parade, she described the outpouring of caring and support she has received from the Derry community as "humbling and moving,” and added that, "it makes me feel good to know people are concerned about me, this is a great community.”

Joe Toohey of Derry released four white American racing pigeons during the observances. Toohey joined the military on his seventeenth birthday in 1987 and served for thirty years. He was in both the Marines and the Army and did three tours of duty in the First Gulf War and one tour in Afghanistan. He retired from the military last September

Each one of the birds Toohey released was named for someone he served with who didn’t come home. They were called Chuck, J.J., Shane, and Corey.

The great-great grandson of a Civil and Mexican War Veteran, Phil Lane of Derry, also served in the military. He was in the Marines in Okinawa, Japan and in Chu Lai, Vietnam working as a mechanic and truck driver. It was May 6, 1967, on his twenty third birthday, that he left Vietnam. He said that Memorial Day, "gives me a chance to honor veterans who came before me.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Bruce Alger, Past Commander of the American Legion of Derry. He served in the Marines from 1964 to 1969. "If I wasn’t here to speak today, I’d be home remembering people I knew, cleaning and visiting the graves of those I served with and knew.” He thanked the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who helped place two thousand flags this week at Forest Hill Cemetery in Derry.

As a misty rain began to fall, wreaths were laid at the veteran’s memorials in MacGregor Park by members of the Pinkerton Academy Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Boy Scouts of America Troop 402, Gold Star Mother Mrs. Nancy Geary, and members of the American Legion Post 9 and Veterans of Foreign War Post 1617 Commanders.