Victor Patnaude, 91, passed away a few weeks back. Just one of the 1,000 WW2 vets disappearing per day. At his private funeral over in Hadley (where strangely enough many Amherst townies repose, including generations of my family) a member of the renowned ‘Highlander Bagpipes Group’ piped “Amazing Grace” while a matched pair of F-15 fighter jets swooped in low, fast and loud.
A fitting tribute indeed to a distinguished member of the “Greatest Generation,” who selflessly performed their duty that--in his case--included blocking Hitler’s equally insane ground version of a surprise kamikaze attack: the “Battle of the Bulge”.
Sergeant Patnaude’s obituary in the Daily Hampshire Gazette also declared: “One of the highlights of his life was being selected as Grand Marshal of the 2005 Independence Day Celebration Parade.”
And while perimeter patrolling on my mountain bike that day, I do so vividly recall as his open car crept into the heart of Amherst town center the jeers, catcalls and derogatory bellows from a marginal group of anti-war protesters clustered on the usual (protest) corner directly under the official town flag.
Including one idiot holding aloft a placard emblazoned with “Sieg Heil!”.
Fortunately normal folks--including a bevy of exuberant children--cheering, waiving, and saluting far outnumbered the whackos.
Obviously he did not blame his hometown of Amherst, as his final written statement to all who knew him or of him, declared that brief and shining 7/4 episode (only an hour) a "highlight," out of a very long life, exceeding well lived life.
Thank you sir! Give my regards to your band of brothers.