Editor's note: Below is a transcript of the speech that Donald Gray gave on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, after the parade.
By Donald Gray, Grand Marshal, 2017 Bronxville Memorial Day Parade
May 31, 2017: When people who don't live here ask me, "What is Bronxville like?" I tell them to come join me on Memorial Day. It encapsulates what we are--a small village with small village values, great community spirit, and a good deal of patriotism.
I have marched in eight Memorial Day parades as a village trustee, and Kathy and I have been in another five or six driving our fun old cars.
It is a real thrill to come out from under the railroad overpass to enjoy the flag waving and enthusiastic cheering by friends and neighbors.
But that is nothing compared to being the grand marshal! This is incredibly cool! If you get a chance to be grand marshal—take it.
So, thank you, Mayor and Trustees and the whole village for allowing me the experience and honor, not only to be grand marshal, but Bronxville's longest serving grand marshal.
A quick version of the Gray family's martial history--that's martial, not marital.
My great-grandfather, only three generations before me, fought in the Civil War, which ended 152 years ago. His infantry regiment was commanded by General George Patton's grandfather--it was the 22nd Virginia--great-granddad fought for the South.
Fast-forward to my dad. A month after Pearl Harbor, in January 1942, my dad quit his job as a school teacher and joined the Marine Corps. When he enlisted, he was 35 years old.
Fast-forward, again, to me--I served as an artillery officer stateside--fairly uneventful duty. Upon leaving, I went to grad school in the Boston area, where coming into Logan Airport I saw kids and women who were the age I am now spitting on soldiers rotating back from Vietnam.
I am happy to say that times have changed dramatically. We as a nation may not agree with our engaging in some wars or the conduct of them, but our respect and admiration for the men and women who serve are unbounded. Now, at the airports, we see people of all ages come up and shake their hand and thank the young soldiers for his or her service. May it always be so.
Finally, in reflecting on the best way to describe the true meaning of Memorial Day, there is no better way than to listen to the twelve simple words carved in stone on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery:
"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."
Here rests in honored glory an American soldier. Here rests in honored glory.
Pictured here: Donald Gray and Mayor Mary C. Marvin.
Photo by A. Warner