Come to my parade: Veteran aims to teach his son the sacrifices for America

| 21 Feb 2012 | 11:00

    MONROE-Paul Berntsen spent part of the Cold War stationed on the border between what was then East and West Germany. He spent an unusually warm Sunday in May showing his 4-year-old son Brandon that Memorial Day means more than barbecues and sales at Woodbury Common. The parade route throughout Monroe Sunday was filled with people of all ages - families, children, grandparents and teenagers. Fathers walked with their daughters on their shoulders. Mothers rocked their kids in the stroller. Parents sat on the grass along Lake Street with their little one on their lap. "Many people died to keep us free-who gave us the ultimate sacrifice," said Berntsen, who lives in Monroe. At his side, his son, Brandon, waved his American flag as they watched as veterans marched by. "I want them (his children) to know that this is an annual event with remembrance behind it," Berntsen said. "I want to let them understand and not forget what people have done to keep this country free." As father and son sat waving to the marchers, Berntsen added, "Absolutely no matter what your view is of the war (in Iraq), you still need to support the soldiers. They are there on our behalf." As he spoke, his 7-year-old daughter Corinne marched by with a group of Brownies. The afternoon parade began at Smith Clove Park, eventually making its way to Lake Street and then onto 17M. All along the route, spectators had come out to wave to veterans on the sunny Sunday afternoon. Along the long stretch of 17M, people sat in their chairs and on their cars watching the marchers. The parade ended at the Monroe Cemetery after stopping by Veterans Memorial Park. Berntsen, periodically looking over toward his young son, said, "There's more pride for the soldiers than there was at the tail-end of the Vietnam War. After the Gulf War, I think people began to realize that you have to support the troops - you have to be bi-partisan." Brandon waved his little American flag, and wore his red shirt which had the American flag printed on the front. From under his sunglasses his eyes twinkled as he sat on his father's lap. A proud American father and his son at the Memorial Day parade in Monday.