VFW Post 3033 hosts annual Memorial Day parade to honor fallen veterans
Honoring the city's veterans and their families, Broadway Street was fill with Mount Pleasant residents during Monday's annual Memorial Day parade.
White flower petals blew in the wind and marching bands added music to the din as patriotic citizens held U.S. flags and dozens of military men and women stood steadfast and gracious in their respective uniforms.
The parade was organized by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3033. Led by vehicles from the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the parade traveled from its first destination at the World War I and II memorials west to Main Street.
Once the parade stopped at the veteran's memorial at Town Center, former VFW commander Terry Inosencio and two local children, Rickey Martinez and Emma Block, put U.S. flags on each cross representing each of the various wars the U.S. had a hand in.
“I was happy with the amount of crowd that came,” Inosencio said. “You never know what the turnout is going to be, but it’s nice to see everyone out here being patriotic. It’s mainly to help them understand what (Memorial Day) is all about.”
While serving as a day for solemn reflection on the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women, the 63-degree weather helped make the parade a pleasant affair. Featuring several local groups, the parade was also a showcase for military groups outside of the big three branches, such as the Mount Pleasant Sea cadets, the American Legion 110, and the Honor Guard.
The parade also allowed Spinning Wheels, a roller-skating rink, to enter a jeep as a vehicle in the parade. Spinning Wheels manager Sarah Hansen said the business had not been in the parade in many years, so being involved this year was a special moment for the rink and its employees.
Hansen added that the increased visibility for her business was a bonus.
“A lot of people don’t know it’s out there," she said. "It’s been there for quite a while, so we thought we’d try to boost it up a little in the parade."
For Hansen, the parade has a strong emotional impact within her family.
One of Hansen's cousins graduated from Air Force training earlier in May, while another cousin currently serves the Marine corps and works at the Pentagon.
“It’s a good day because it takes the time to remember those who fell for us and those who are still fighting," Hansen said.
Many were happy that the weather held out for the parade, however, the hot summer sun can often cause serious health concerns for those working the event.
In the 2011, one of the members of the various bands playing the parade fainted from dehydration. To combat this, the band came prepared with a bag of water bottles, which they passed out to each other.
Yet their preparedness was beaten by Mother Nature once again, as one of the members of the Mount Pleasant Sea Cadets fainted at the beginning of the parade.
Assistant Marching Band Director Dylan Hyman said he was nearby when it happened, and heard the cause was due to his locked knees.
“Especially since hot weather is finally here, it’s extremely important to have all of our students in good condition," Hyman said. "When you lock your knees, you restrict the blood flow through your legs, which causes you to pass out."
Each of the vehicles in the parade serve a specific symbolic purpose, but of the vehicles carried a particular importance. Transported throughout town in an old Mustang was Joseph Cascarelli, a member of the Army who served 18 months shortly after World War II ended.
Cascarelli was stationed in Japan after being drafted in 1946. His role was to serve in the topographical battalion, a unit responsible for making Japanese maps for planes to follow to shoot photos of the landscape.
His son, Andrew Cascarelli, served in the Vietnam War but died of cancer months after being exposed to the chemical Agent Orange.
VFW Senior Vice Commander Bryan Mason, who organized the parade this year, said Cascarelli been recognized before, but they knew with him being older, they had to make sure to get him in this event.
“Cascarelli is one of our few World War II veterans left,” Mason said.
Cascarelli said he was happy to have been honored, but was much more pleased that people have been increasingly concerned about the troops and veterans' issues in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I think people are growing considerably more aware of what’s going on in the world,” he said. “When I got out of the service and went to Memorial Day parades, nobody would even show up.”