Every year I look forward to the Memorial Day celebration hosted by our local American Legion and VFW.
It starts with a parade through our beautiful downtown Olean.
As the parade reaches the South Union Street Bridge, a touching ceremony concludes when a wreath is tossed into the Allegheny River. The wreath honors those who died at sea, and from the bridge it begins a long journey from Olean to the Gulf of Mexico.
The final ceremony takes place at Veterans Field in Mount View Cemetery. After the speeches and a moving rendition of the National Anthem by the Olean High School band, a three-volley salute followed by taps echoes against Mount Herman and through the valley.
I am proud to live in Olean — to live in a community that has traditions that you can rely upon — year after year. And our Memorial Day traditions are unrivaled.
I am proud to live in a community whose residents again and again — when called upon — make significant sacrifices to protect our republic.
I am proud to live Olean because I have witnessed — firsthand these past three months — how well our residents respond to an emergency how our residents rise above the crisis at hand — and work together to protect one another. Even when it means canceling events and traditions that we have come to rely upon.
In the future, we will remember that Americans were once again challenged. And here in Olean we met that challenge with strength, resolve, courage and determination — just like the men and women listed on the numerous memorials throughout the city.
If you are looking for a way to celebrate Memorial Day, please consider visiting the memorials in War Veterans Park, Lincoln Park or by the South Union Street Bridge to remember, honor and commemorate the men and women who answered the call of our nation and gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to protect us.
Happy Memorial Day, and let’s hope that next year we can all be together to share this tribute as a community.
William J. Aiello is mayor of the City of Olean.