The Memorial Day parade will step off at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, from the Goodwives Shopping Center on Old Kings Highway North and proceed up Brookside Road and turn left onto Post Road.

It will then continue west on the Post Road and end in the area of the Spring Grove Cemetery, where the Memorial Day ceremony will take place.

Some of the organizations that will be marching include VFW Post 6933 color guard and veterans; the Connecticut National Guard; the Darien Arts Center; various Girl and Boy Scout troops; Guiding Eyes for the Blind; and the Darien High School band and cheerleaders.

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Louis J. DiGiusto is the keynote speaker. He is the district staff officer for the U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary on the commodore's staff, Coast Guard District 1, Southern Region. He is also a member on the national board of directors of the Navy League of the United States, of which he is the Connecticut-area president.

The grand marshal is Phil Kraft, who planned and organized the annual parade since 1994, but retired this year.

Kraft, commander of the Darien VFW Post 6933 since 2000, is also a past chairman of the VFW State Veterans Services. In 2011, he was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame for his lifetime of service to veterans. U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, also selected Kraft to serve on his Veterans Advisory Board.

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In March 2008, he was appointed to the VFW National Veterans Care Committee and was appointed a National Aide-de-Camp for 2010.

In 2011, Kraft was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame for his lifetime of service to veterans. U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, also selected Kraft to serve on his Veterans Advisory Board.

Kraft is also a member of the American Legion and a life member of both the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of the Vietnam War, having served as its National Agent Orange adviser since 1995. He is also a member of the Connecticut Patriot Guard.

Kraft is an active supporter of Wreaths Across America in its efforts to place wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers every December at the Connecticut Veterans Cemetery and at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Kraft was a family health counselor in 1989 for National Veterans Services Fund Inc. He served on the Agent Orange Commission in Washington, D.C., founded and chaired by retired Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr.

Kraft is president and executive director of NVSF, having directly touched the lives of thousands of veterans and their families, helping them to find creative and innovative ways to help them to help themselves, both through the VA and other resources.

Kraft and his wife have a daughter and a son who are both pursuing graduate degrees.

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