By Tom Grace
BURLINGTON FLATS _ People lined state Route 51 for nearly a half-mile Monday as Burlington Flats celebrated Memorial Day and said a formal goodbye to Cpl. Michael Mayne.
Mayne, 21, a 2006 graduate of nearby Edmeston Central School, died Feb. 23 while on patrol in Iraq.
Every year, Burlington Flats has a parade and celebration at Veterans Memorial Park, and this year's was one of the largest in memory. Veterans marched and rode in classic convertibles, followed by floats, fire trucks, tractors and bands, including the bagpipers in the Hobart Fire Department's Pipes and Drums.
As the parade curved by the park, six flags, one representing each branch of the United States military, were flying at half-staff. The flags and poles had been installed by Mayne during his Eagle Scout project with Boy Scout Troop 9.
At the end of Monday's ceremonies, with the Edmeston Central School band playing a medley of songs from the services and hundreds of people standing solemnly on the green, the flags were raised and flanked the American flag.
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, master of ceremonies, said he was proud to represent Burlington Flats for the patriotism on display.
``For too many Americans, Memorial Day is seen as only part of a three-day weekend, or even the beginning of summer,'' Seward said.
In Burlington Flats and surrounding communities, people honor the sacrifices soldiers make, he said.
Those soldiers are truly heroes, he said, and it is fitting that they be recognized for their willingness to risk their lives.
The state senator bestowed the New York State Senate Liberty Award on Mayne's parents, Lee and Cathy Mayne of Burlington Flats, recognizing the young soldiers' ultimate sacrifice.
Two other local soldiers, R. Sherrill Hull, who was lost at sea in 1943 during World War II, and Andrew Rose, who perished June 3, 1969, during the Vietnam War, also were recognized with wreaths laid by their plaques in the park.
Caprice Kellogg and Emily Arnold, second graders at ECS, recited Lt. Col. John McCrea's World War I poem, ``In Flanders Field,'' and eighth grader Collin Slattery read the Gettysburg Address.
Mayne's death shocked Burlington Flats and Edmeston Central School community, said Emily Bliss, who delivered the senior speech.
``There was a strong feeling of disbelief,'' she said.
But sometimes it takes a shock before people realize that soldiers like Mayne are willing to die for their country, that those who serve are more than just ``names etched in stone,'' said Bliss, who in years past has delivered both the Gettysburg Address and ``In Flanders Field.''