Air Force flyover will be part of Portland Memorial Day celebration

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PORTLAND — A section of Congress Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, May 30, to make way for the American Legion’s annual Memorial Day parade.

The parade, sponsored by Harold T. Andrews Post 17, will begin at 10:30 a.m. It will travel from Longfellow Square to Monument Square, where ceremonies will take place. 

The U.S. Air Force is planning a flyover at 10:45 a.m., according to the parade itinerary.

City Hall Spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said feeder streets along the Congress Street parade route will also be closed.

Master of Ceremonies Ernie Shorey said this year’s event is significant, because it marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Shorey said most Americans are aware that the country is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but most people don’t have a personal connection to the conflicts, as they have in the past.

The Memorial Day ceremonies are a chance to remind everyone about the men and women fighting overseas.

“The freedom we have is not just because we are a great country, but because of the people who fought for us,” Shorey said.

One of those fighters is the Rev. William Doughty, 84, a World War II veteran who is the 2011 parade grand marshal.

Shorey said Doughty, who moved to Maine in 1988, was prepared to take civil engineering classes at Syracuse University when he was called up for military service.

Doughty volunteered to be a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division and went to Germany in 1945. He earned his parachutist’s badge as well as the World War II and Occupation of Germany medals. 

“Remembering is vital,” said the 68-year-old Shorey, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Guest speakers at the Monument Square ceremony will include U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; City Councilor Cheryl Leeman, who will be representing U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine; Cheverus High School President the Rev. William Campbell, who is the parade chaplain and Mayor Nicholas Mavodones.

The Maine Center for the Deaf will provide interpreters services.

Organizers said parade participants will not be allowed to carry political or protest signs.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.