Member of Goshen’s Honor Guard is Memorial Day Grand Marshal | News
GOSHEN – Goshen resident Charlie Stacey, a member of the Honor Guard for more than 25 years, will be the Grand Marshal for this year’s annual Memorial Day Parade.
“A loved one’s funeral stays with us probably the rest of our lives,” Stacey said. “I know I remember grandmothers and grandfathers, my mother’s brother, my mother and my aunts, I remember their funerals. The family who served, and those who have military honors for their burial, will stay with me. I don’t remember all of the ones we did, but I do remember the looks I see on their faces.
Stacey vividly remembers the day he decided to join the honor guard. It was at his uncle’s funeral. His uncle was killed on the second day of Operation Overlord, the Battle of Normandy, in June 1944.
“I [saw] what the honor guard did for [the] family when they brought him home, and I said if I ever had the chance, I would,” he said.
Almost 50 years later, it happened.
“I’m just grateful that the guy knocked on my door and wanted to know if I would be part of the honor guard,” he added.
It’s been almost 25 years since that day, and Stacey continues to cherish every opportunity he has to serve.
“As long as I live and I can do it, I plan to do it because when you’re in service, you’re not just in service for yourself,” he said. “You are for your family, your neighbors, for what our country stands for and what we stand for… Pretty much anything they need, I will do for them. The only thing I can do is thank the Lord for touching me in a way that allows me to do this for the family… The only thing I can say to them is, “It’s an honor and a privilege.
Stacey’s career in the military began several years before her time in the honor guard. As a young man, he joined the National Guard in Lexington, Ky., before finding his way to Goshen at age 19.
“I laid bricks there in Lexington, and it was in the winter and in the winter then, you weren’t laying bricks – they would freeze,” he said.
His friend woke him up early in the morning and asked if he would join him, traveling to Goshen to stay with his aunts, and that’s exactly what the teenager did, working in a metal factory before being eventually enlisted.
“I thought I was going to Korea when I entered,” he added.
Instead, he spent 18 months in Germany after World War II. The period was just after the end of the war, before France and Britain, the USSR and the United States gave up control of Germany, and just after in the 1950s.
“We were the last troops to occupy Germany,” he recalls his time with the 51st Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division.
Stacey, retired, is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, which again this year organizes the annual parade alongside disabled American veterans.