Above: Jim Essex marching in EG’s Veterans Day Parade in 2014.
By Dimitri Daskalopoulos
“Memorial day is a day to honor and give thanks to those who wore the uniform of our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, and gave, in the words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, ‘the ultimate sacrifice.’ They gave their lives in the service of their country and therefore in service to peace, freedom, and justice.” – James Essex
James Essex is back for a second tour as grand marshal for this year’s East Greenwich Memorial Day Parade. He’s made for the job – having marched in dozens of EG parades over the years.
Essex has been a leader of Troop 2 East Greenwich for 53 years, many of them as scoutmaster. A notable 153 boys have earned the rank of Eagle Scout under his tenure.
“It’s extremely important to me to see boys set goals and achieve those goals of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest award that scouting offers to young men.”
Essex’s long list of accomplishments as scoutmaster doesn’t end there, however. While scoutmaster, he participated in international exchange programs in 1987 and 1988 with Coventry, England, including visiting and learning about the Coventry Cathedral that was devastated in WWII.
With his troop, he also took multiple trips to Washington D.C. where they laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some other highlights were trips to the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Penn.; walking the Freedom Trail in Boston; and camping on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This year is special for Troop 2 – the 100th year anniversary of its founding. The troop will be recognized during the Memorial Day Parade.
Essex has dedicated his life to his community and honoring veterans. “I have been marching in the Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades for as long as I remember.” In the ‘70s, when he first became scoutmaster of Troop 2, the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery was established. Cemetery officials reached out and asked Troop 2 to flag the gravesites there in honor of Memorial Day. It became a tradition for Troop 2 after that, with Essex at the wheel to flag these sites before every Memorial Day.
Don’t miss Jim Essex and this year’s Memorial Day Parade. It starts at 10 a.m. Monday, from Academy Field. Get more parade details HERE.