Pariticpants march in OOB's Memorial Day parade.
OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Hundreds of participants, representing nearly fifty different groups, marched through Old Orchard, with thousands of people lining the streets of this oceanside community cheering them on. It was a scene that would have made Robert McNally proud.
"It was very, very important to him that Memorial Day not become just another three day weekend," stated McNally's widow, Eileen. So her husband started organizing the town's Memorial Day parade and memorial ceremony.
"He was very upset that the parade had kind of fallen by the wayside," explained Eileen. "People weren't coming out the way they used to, and so he made it a mission to build the parade back up and encourage people to come out and express their patriotism."
Robert McNally continued to work organizing the town's Memorial Day events until he fell ill and passed away last year.
To honor his years of service, both to the town and to his country - Robert McNally was a veteran who served in the Army Air Corps - this year's parade and ceremony were dedicated in his memory. A plaque, with his name and information on it, was placed below a beautiful flower-laden tree in the town's Memorial Park.
"He would be very proud right now, I am sure he would," said town clerk Kim McLaughlin, who worked with McNally helping organize the event the past few years, and is now charged with keeping the tradition growing.
"He always made everybody feel welcome. He wanted every aspect of our democracy to be represented," said McLaughlin. "He wanted to make sure that today was that day where people knew that they didn't take the day off and have bar-b-que's and that was the only thing they did, he wanted people to know that this day was because of our military and what they have done for our country and he wanted to make sure they were all honored."
Governor Paul LePage attended today's memorial ceremony and spoke of the sacrifices thousands of Mainers have made to keep our country the home of the free.
"Our nation has given much," said LePage. "Thousands of brave souls have made the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect the American ideas, our history and our nation."
An emotion-filled Eileen McNally helped lay a wreath on the town's war memorial, with hundreds of people gathered watching in silence.
"It is so wonderful that it has continued, even though he can't be with us," said Eileen, before pausing to gather her thoughts. "Well, I think maybe he is in a way. He would be so pleased, he really would."