Hot weather marks Kingston’s 2015 Memorial Day parade

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KINGSTON – Temperatures soared to the
mid-80s in Kingston for Monday’s annual Memorial Day parade. Several
thousand people lined Midtown Broadway to pay their respects, while seeking
shelter from the hot sun under tree shade.

A perfect day for a parade in Kingston

“It seems, once again, we’re blessed with a particularly
humid day; I guess that’s much better than rain,” said Kingston
Veteran’s Association Chairman William Forte, addressing the crowd
assembled outside City Hall before the parade’s opening ceremony.
Choking back tears, Forte broke with protocol by naming an Army veteran as honorary grand marshal of this year’s event, his brother Edward Anthony Forte, who died the day before, on Sunday.
Forte’s son, Staff Sgt. William F. Forte, of the 10th Mountain Division, delivered the keynote speech.
“While I truly appreciate the sentiment, today is not the day to thank a veteran,” he noted. “That’s what Veterans’ Day is for.”
Sgt. Forte added that he’s also not big fan of being referred a hero. “The real heroes are the people we’re here today to honor. Today is a day to remember the fallen and share the memories of those who can’t be here because of that sacrifice,” he said.
Memorial Day is not a time to argue politics, Sgt. Forte noted.
“This isn’t the day to debate the reasons why these brave men and women were sent where they were,” Forte said. “Odds are, a lot of them didn’t agree with, or understand those reasons either. The fact is, once someone starts shooting at you, you don’t care why you’re there, or who sent you.”
He said there are “two unbreakable rules in war. Number one, people die; number two, nobody can change rule number one. What nobody prepares you for, is losing your soldiers to the war they fight at home,” Sgt. Forte said.
“Today while we’re celebrating this holiday, watching parades, having cookouts, and enjoying the day off, 22 veterans will take their own lives, and 22 more will die tomorrow, and the day after that, and every day, until we get them the help they need and deserve,” Forte said.  “While these young men and women will never be considered casualties of war, there’s no mistaking that war played a role in their deaths. I wanted to end on a happier note, but that’s not what this day is about.”