Darien's message of Memorial Day

The crowds of people along Boston Post Road were dressed in red, white and blue, as if they were a living American flag, for the Memorial Day Parade that honored and remembered those who had been lost in the line of duty.

The weather was perfect for the Monday holiday, following a weekend of monsoon-like rain and hollowing winds. Down Post Road, the Darien Police Department and color guard, followed by Grand Marshal Phillip Kraft and town officials, lead the parade toward the Spring Grove Cemetery where the ceremonies would take place.

Onlookers waved their hand-held American flags and applauded for the organizations that followed the painted yellow lines, but the applause couldn't compared to the appreciation that was given to the active members of the Connecticut National Guard.

While they walking in uniform, lead by a bagpiper, people stood up from their seats to applaud the men and women for their duty and service.

"It's a day of inspiration and to think about the men and woman who give their life to serve, even if they don't know what's ahead of them," said George Paparis, who was accompanied by Cindy, his wife at the ceremonies at Spring Grove Cemetery.

The Paparis have lived in Darien for 20 years and only more recently did they start attending the ceremony after the festivities of the parade.

"I feel like this is what should be emphasized," said Cindy. "While the parade is fun, you sort of miss the meaning."

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The Paparis have a 27-year-old son who is in the Coast Guard and spend several months on a carrier following Somalian pirates.

"You really appreciate these men and women because they do this with valor, courage and self-sacrifice," Cindy said.

Louis J. DiGiusto, III, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, was the speaker for this year's ceremony. He spoke of the men and women who had died and the importance of their stories.

"When you go home, tell them of us and say, `For their tomorrow, we gave our today,'" DiGiusto said, quoting a poem written by John Maxwell Edmonds in 1916 during World War I.

DiGiusto told the stories of four veterans, some of whom he spoke to for documentaries. Each of them served bravely and were decorated soldiers, DiGiusto said. One of the men was his stepfather, another was his father.

Memorial Day, according to Oliver Knight, a seventh-grader who won an essay contest, is about reflection, celebration and gratification.

Throughout the speeches during the ceremony, one message was consistent: Pass the word.

"Look around you," said Kraft. "I guarantee you there's a veteran nearby. If you know a veteran, talk to them. Find out their story. They're all we've got."