It was the Memorial Day remembrance that almost didn’t happen.

But Litchfield’s traditional parade and remembrance Memorial Day program at Litchfield Cemetery did happen Monday, and both drew a crowd that seemed grateful to have the events and appreciative of the effort to organize them.

When Litchfield High School band director David Ceasar originally checked on the Memorial Day schedule, he was told there would be no parade or program this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Ceasar did not want a repeat of 2020, when Memorial Day observances were cancelled because of the pandemic.

“Dave said the band was going to march,” City Council member Darlene Kotelnicki said, so various leaders reconsidered the plan to cancel. And within hours, the decision to go ahead with parade and program — even if cut back slightly from usual size — was made.

Third Street and Swift Avenue — the parade route — both seemed to have crowds similar to a normal year, while the crowd at Litchfield Cemetery seemed smaller than usual, though still large.

The G.A.R. Hall even had its traditional Memorial Day picnic following the program.

The cemetery program included speeches by Litchfield Mayor Keith Johnson and state Rep. Dean Urdahl.

In his remarks, Urdahl encouraged those in the crowd to remember the sacrifices and the course set for the country more than a century ago.

“...(T)here was another greatest generation that held our flags, that struggled mightily for great goals that saved this country, that gaze with great dignity as they watch over us from the walls of the G.A.R. Hall. Through their unspoken lips comes the question: How stands the Union we struggled to save? How stands the Union?

“We must rise above the current problems that confront us, so that future generations may answer, ‘Our Union stands strong and free.’”

— Brent Schacherer