Buchanan Memorial Day service spotlights WWII, Vietnam vets

NOW: Buchanan Memorial Day service spotlights WWII, Vietnam vets

BUCHANAN, Mich. -- Many Michiana communities were able to hold their first Memorial Day commemorations since the pandemic began.

Buchanan started the morning with their parade, then ceremony afterward at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

“Everybody’s excited to get back into the swing of things and open up and be together as a community, it was a huge turnout, a lot of people pitched in to help get things done this week, so it’s just nice to see everyone,” said Mayor Sean Denison.

While the parade focused on honoring local veterans, a lifelong resident was also recognized as the Grand Marshal. 

“I felt quite honored, my husband was a member of the legion in Buchanan, I’ve lived here all my life, I was born 99 years ago so I’ve been to a lot of parades and used to march in the high school band, but today was a little different letting everybody look at me,” said Geneva Swem.

Afterward, at the ceremony, two Buchanan veterans got the spotlight. 

“I had some interesting years with the Army and now here I am, I’ve been to this ceremony for 50 years,” said Richard Hickok, a Vietnam veteran.

Hickok recalled receiving a letter from the president saying he had been drafted in February of 1963.

Then, his graduation day from Jump School in Fort Benning, Georgia on November 22, 1963 and finding out President Kennedy had been assassinated.

“I’m no hero but I did what I had to do in 1945,” said Richard Aldrich, a WWII veteran.

Aldrich said he was 17 when he left Niles High School to enlist in the Navy.

He ended up being stationed in Guam and arrived on August 5, 1945 – his 18th birthday.

The next day, the United States bombed Hiroshima and Aldrich’s ship was one of the first to arrive in Japan.

The American Legion Auxiliary Post 51 also set up crosses along the graves at Veteran’s Circle in Oak Ridge Cemetery, plus, the city has about 200 banners for veterans that will be rotated throughout the summer to be hung up downtown.

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