Groton's annual Memorial Day observance will be held on Monday, May 26, and will consist of a parade with ceremonies at the Main Street Common, Old Burying Ground, Groton Cemetery and Sawyer Common.

As always, the parade honors veterans of all wars, but this year's special theme will be the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Invasion.

We invite all veterans to join us, whether in uniform or not. Veterans who wish to participate but are unable to march are asked to contact Dave Elliott at 978-448-6303 to arrange a ride in one of the vehicles in the parade.

Our Grand Marshall and primary speaker this year is U.S. Navy Capt. Richard LaBranche, director of the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School at the US Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

We will assemble on the grass of Legion Common at 8:30 a.m. with each unit gathering between numbered signs on the common and the Old Burying Ground.

At 8:50 a.m., the Groton Police Department will close School Street and all units will move into the street, retaining the order established on the Common, and we will start the parade promptly at 9 a.m. Parade vehicles and their riders will meet on the north side of School Street in front of Badger Funeral Home at 8:45 a.m. Drivers are asked to be in place absolutely no later than 8:40 a.m.

The parade will proceed out to Main Street, return to Legion Hall, move on to the Groton Cemetery with a stop at the Sawyer Common enroute and return to Legion Hall. While we never know for sure how long the parade will take, we are usually back at Legion Hall by about 11:15 a.m.

Parking will be a problem for participants and spectators alike -- THERE WILL BE NO PARKING ANYWHERE ON THE PARADE ROUTE, WHICH INCLUDES ABSOLUTELY ALL THE STREETS AROUND LEGION HALL!

We are asking everyone who can walk or carpool to do so. Participants are requested to try to park outside the parade route and leave the lot behind the Boutwell School for veterans and participants with heavy or bulky equipment such as guns or large musical instruments. Available areas outside the parade route include Sacred Heart Church lot (NOT on West Street next to the church), medical offices and bank parking lots on Main Street beyond Sacred Heart Church, Willowdale Road (block between Main and Hollis streets will be closed) and Main Street EAST of Hollis Street.

Anybody who NEEDS close-in parking is asked to contact Parade Adjutant Bob Johnson, who will try to coordinate space, at 617-513-4484. I will be wearing a Legion uniform with blue-and-gold "rope" on my left shoulder at the parade. Any questions on the day of the parade should be directed to me.

In the event of questionable weather on Monday, leaders of units are asked to call my office phone 978-448-1175 after 6:15 a.m. (answering machine will be updated with a message indicating parade status) and then get the word out to your group. Our inclement weather plan calls for wreath-laying ceremonies by a small group of veterans and firefighters -- all other activities will be canceled.

-- Bob Johnson, parade adjutant, 617-513-4484, rcjcommon43@aol.com