At 11 a.m., as police shut down vehicle traffic at the Four Corners, the parade stepped off from the old middle school on Main Street, led by the VFW color guard. Schools, scouts, twirlers and fire trucks followed, all waiving American flags and many carrying the Bennington flag with its half-circle of white stars and "76" on a blue field. Twirlers and gymnasts, students from Village School in North Bennington, Boy Scouts from Troop 353 and Girl Scouts from Troop 30462 led the way.
As it does every year, the procession stopped at 11:11 a.m. — the moment on Nov. 11, 1918 that World War I came to a halt with the armistice that inspired the holiday. A silence fell over the street as Mount Anthony Union High School sophomore Seth Button-Mosher played "Taps" on his trumpet.
When the parade resumed, many of the men and women who had come out to watch stepped onto the sidewalk and followed the procession to the Vermont Veterans Home for a brief ceremony, led by American Legion Post 13 commander Steve Greenslet. Others waived and saluted from front porches and business windows as the parade made its way past.
David Woodward, the financial director of American Legion Post 13, gave the keynote address at the Veterans Home, where the marchers formed a semi-circle around the memorials bearing witness to the sacrifices made by generations of Vermonters.
"It;s up to us to ensure that every veteran's service is appreciated by their fellow Americans," Woodward said.
The best way to do that is to tell a veteran "thank you," he said. But it doesn't have to end there, he added — you can ask that veteran what he or she needs.
Too many veterans are facing homelessness and post-traumatic stress and losing their lives to suicide, Woodward said.
"Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers," he said.
Josie Colvin of Bennington, a Gold Star Mother whose son Gerald died during the Vietnam War, laid the memorial wreath before Button-Mosher played "Taps" once more, bringing the ceremony to an close.
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