Parade in Woodbury brings back 60 year-old memories

| 21 Feb 2012 | 11:00

    WOODBURY-"It's 60 years," he says widening his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief, "60 years." Sixty years ago, Herman Galberd was not a member of the Woodbury Historical society, and did not sit on the stoop of the Woodbury Historical Society's building waving to passersby as if he knew the whole town. He was in war, or as he says, he was in the war "that was supposed to end all wars." Herman Galberd and his wife, Constance, both of the Woodbury Historical Society, helped organize the town's annual Memorial Day Parade. The parade, held last Sunday, was lead by grand marshal and 33-year Woodbury town resident Judy Roulette. Mrs. Roulette's husband, Donald was honored by the parade committee "for his courage and heroism he displayed during World War Two." A member of the United States Army Air Corps, Roulette was one of the 26,000 U.S. troops left in the Philippine Island when 200,000 enemy troops invaded. He was seriously wounded and then captured. Roulette and his fellow prisoners were forced to march 65 miles without food or water. Many of the prisoners on the "Bataan Death March" were clubbed, shot, or bayoneted along the way. Six hundred and fifty Americans and many more Philippinos died along the march. Donald Roulette passed away earlier this year and his wife was chosen to be grand marshal of the parade which commenced on Bond Street and eventually made its way to the Cemetery of the Highlands. Along the route, there were two monument decorations - the Veteran's Monument of the Highlands and the Fireman's Monument of the Highlands. Just this year alone, 10 veterans have passed away from the town of Woodbury. Memorial Day is the day to remember these men, said Herman Galberd, who as he approaches his 80th birthday, has witnessed his share of American history. "We have a lot - over 300 men from the area who served (in the Second World War)" he said as he flipped through a photo book of black and white photos of the faces of Woodbury soldiers who served in the war. "Men from Woodbury went to war all the way back to the Civil War," Galberd said, pointing to photos, newspaper clippings and army uniforms spread throughout the quaint Route 32 historical headquarters. "At the cemetery of the Highlands," he said, pointing toward the Cornwall direction of Route 32, "there are a lot of Revolutionary War soldiers buried there." He reminisced about Dick Weyant, another World War II veteran and close friend who died earlier this year. Weyant had been the parade's grand marshal just three years ago. But Galberd believes that the true meaning of Memorial Day is being forgotten. "Not only do young people not know or are interested in this, but their parents, too, you know, they're the baby boomers, as they call em.' They're our kids," he said. "Did I tell my kids about my war experiences? No. Maybe I'm to blame too for not talking about it. But I guess it's like anything - you have to be interested to care. "But I think people have more a sense of pride for the men coming home, (from the current war) then the Vietnam vets. Because the country was angry at them. It's a different kinda thing now - you're considered a hero." Galberd enlisted in the service the day after he graduated high school and said that his friend Weyant enlisted even before he graduated high school. "It's a different time now," he said. "World War II was the big war to end all wars. This war is a war against terrorism. We're not seeing the same results as we did in Word War II. It was very definitive, we lost a battle, we won a battle. It's a different kind of war; it's a hit and run, hit and run." Galberd also said that more respect and patriotism would come from the younger generation of Americans if they were to know how good their life is because they live in the United States of America. "Younger kids in third world countries, they don't have a ball to play with. How many Game Boys do kids today have each?" he asked. "In South Africa they have no toys - we sent them a whole bunch of stuff. Put some of these kids there for awhile, they'll respect it more." "But that's the problem, you (younger generation) has enough," he added. "We really don't understand how much resentment there is against this country, and it's because of that. "Some of the liberals have slanted views but they have to remember that they're able to say what they want because people died for that right," said Galberd, who added he not beholden to any particular political party. When asked what American should do on Memorial Day, Galberd said: "Number one, you shouldn't be at the Woodbury Commons shopping. And number two, there should be family gatherings. Take a look at the newspaper, even your newspaper (The Photo News) - the papers are loaded with sales. Tell me why were having sales on Memorial Day?" Sixty years ago Herman Galberd was a witness to war. Today, on Memorial Day, he looks on at the traffic along Route 32 outside Woodbury Common. "No one," he said, "should forget the sacrifices people made for this country."