Above: A member of the Kentish Guard fires a volley during the ceremony at the World War II Memorial at First Avenue and Cliff Street. Photo by Joe Morel
Harry Waterman, Grand Marshal, honors all who serve at Town Parade
By Laura Sullivan
Friends, family, fans and other townsfolk turned out in patriotic style on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning for East Greenwich’s annual Veterans Day Parade. Continuing a tradition that goes back over a century, the town put on an impressive parade, culminating in ceremonies at the Town Hall, where veterans, present and past, were recognized for their service to our country. The procession included town officials, police and fire honor guards, the Kentish Guards and Varnum Continentals, the East Greenwich High School Band, the R.I. Highlanders, Scout troops, modern and ballet dancers, the Blue Knights and other civic groups.
There was also an impressive lineup of classic and antique cars and fire trucks. Captain John Romano (USN ret.), former Grand Marshal – and centenarian! – waved from one of the historic EG fire trucks, resplendent in his Navy dress uniform. The procession culminated with the float bearing the replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a visible reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many.
As this year’s Grand Marshal, Harry Waterman is well known in East Greenwich, especially along Main Street, at St. Luke’s Church, and in Chamber of Commerce and Rotary circles. A Navy veteran himself, Harry has been part of the East Greenwich community for over 50 years.
Following introductions by Town Manager Andrew Nota and remarks by Major Gen. Christopher P. Callahan, commanding general of the Rhode Island National Guard, Waterman shared stirring and personal reflections on his years in the Navy, his life in East Greenwich with his wife, Roz, and his mindfulness of other veterans who have served.
“I am a veteran,” he declared proudly, naming many other recognizable “Townies” who have also worn the uniform. Punctuating his remarks, Harry shared how “I am a grateful veteran”, “a mindful veteran,” “a servant veteran,” “a proud veteran,” “a thankful veteran.”
Waterman spoke of role models along the way, including his late father-in-law, the Rev. Alfred W. Burns, Capt. Carl Hoyer, and 104-year-old Bill McClintick (EG’s holder of the Boston Post Cane). He also paid special tribute to Roz, his bride of 50 years, who “accepts me as I am, to [just] be Harry.”
For a young man from Cincinnati who had never seen the ocean until 1970, when he joined the Navy, Harry Waterman is a humble hometown hero, even as he is grateful for his military service. Still, he is mindful of other veterans who may not be as fortunate. “Today’s military are the veterans of tomorrow,” he says, and are deserving of our support, respect and thanks.
Laura Sullivan lives in East Greenwich.