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May 26, 2009

Crown Point musters 141st Memorial Day parade

CROWN POINT — The first parade honored fallen soldiers here in May of 1868, three years after the Civil War ended.



When Decoration Day was officially renamed, Crown Point kept marching.



Monday marked the 141st lineup of one of the oldest Memorial Day parades in the nation.



Deanna E. Joiner, an Air Force veteran from Crown Point now serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, has marched in close to 30 of them, first at age 9 or 10 as a Girl Scout, she said.



For generations, a member of her family has held the original flag the women of Ironville made for Chester Rhoades to carry into the Civil War.



"He was my grandfather's uncle," Joiner said. "He's buried at the battlefield at Antietam."



The original flag has since been retired, but Joiner helped organize the solemn commemoration that visited eight rural cemeteries tucked beside back roads near small country churches.



Joiner hopes youth do not lose sight of what Memorial Day means: paying tribute to those who gave everything.



"The children do need to learn more about respect for the flag," she added.



By 1 p.m., event organizer Jodi Gibbs began to coordinate arriving pieces of parade.



In a march that stretched from Route 9/22 to Monitor Bay, paper plates stapled to wooden stakes marked where more than 30 entries would be placed.



"Jodi, we have four trucks coming in," yelled one of the Crown Point fire captains as the red trucks rolled up.



The Crown Point Parade mustered the largest gathering in Essex County Monday, capping three days of events.



Awaiting their horse and buggy, 2009 Grand Marshals Michael and Janet Goot walked to the front of the line between fire trucks.



The couple was honored for a combined nearly 65 years of service in Crown Point's A.E. Phelps Fire Company.

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