Marion Parade Honors Veterans
By Laura Fedak Pedulli
On an overcast and breezy day, Marion residents paid their respects to the men and women who have served the United States in wars past and present. Like every year, the Benjamin D. Cushing VFW Post #2425 hosted its Memorial Day Parade, which included the raising of the colors, ceremonies at the Music Hall’s Civil War Monument and Town House, and the full VFW ritual at Old Landing Cemetery and Old Landing Park.
Rodney Hunt, Post Junior Vice Commander and event Chairman, led the morning-long ceremonies and parade. Hunt, who joined the VFW in 1982, said the event honors veterans and the VFW, “because they do a lot of good work.”
He noted that the ranks of the VFW are dwindling as many veterans from World War II are passing on. Indeed, the post recognized 20 veterans from Marion and Wareham who have died during the past year.
“These comrades are worthy of far greater recognition than mere words or markers. The sacrifices they made and the deeds they performed shall be written in history, and shall remain in our memories for generations to come,” said Hunt during the Town House portion of the event.
The names of these veterans are: John Bisaillon, Charles Card, John Dickinson, Paul Hoffler, George Jenney, Allen Ladner, Thomas Linzee, Edison Manzer Love, Lawrence Medeiros, Gordon Sherlock Jr., Raymond Tiernan, David Johnson, James Barron, Robert Grant, William Dunn, Robert Earl Harris, Donald Forte, Robert Bent Jr., Paul Sarris and B. Eugene Defreitas.
At the opening of the event, Marion families watched on in respectful silence as the 178-member strong Sippican School Band performed the National Anthem, high school senior Mikayla Florio performed “God Bless America” and John Hewett recited the Gettysburg Address.
John Robarge, who gave the Logan’s address, spoke in poetic terms the meaning of Memorial Day as “stirring up the eternal feelings” from the lives lost in combat.
Selectmen Jon Henry, Stephen Cushing and newcomer Jodi Dickerson led the parade, which included Sippican School Band, the Marion Cub and Boy Scout Pack 32, and the Portuguese American Band under the direction of Dan Ferreira.
Selectman Henry, a longtime resident and Vietnam War veteran, said prior to the parade that the annual event has been ongoing “since I was a Cub Scout in 1951” and beyond. He said before the VFW was formed, the Grand Army of the Republic, which included veterans of the Civil War, participated in this long-running town event.
During a later speech at the Town House, he noted that 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, which endured from 1962 to 1975. He reflected on the “extractable nature” of conflict – especially as the current war in Afghanistan has soldiers deploying three or four times. He said since the revolution, one million soldiers have died.
“Memorial day is a somber day. It’s a somber reminder of not only [soldiers who have died], but also a tribute to the people who just did their duty,” Henry said. “Think about the people who are serving.”
Mattapoisett Observes Memorial Day
By Eric Tripoli
Hundreds of people turned out to the Mattapoisett Free Library on Monday, May 28 to celebrate Memorial Day and pay tribute to all the American soldiers who lost their lives fighting in military conflicts. While Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer for many, those in attendance put their celebrating on hold for a while in order to take part in this important annual event, one that encourages solemn reflection and thankfulness for the freedoms we have in this country.
“I’m excited to see this many people here. It’s important for everyone to understand what our veterans did for this country,” said Board of Selectmen member Jordan Collyer, who was also a speaker at today’s remembrance. He recounted the time he was invited to spend a night sleeping aboard the same ship his grandfather served on during World War II and the significance that experience had on him.
“If anyone has the opportunity to join their father or grandfather to see the ship they served on, do it,” he implored, citing the importance for the younger generations to take advantage of opportunities to connect with the history of their families, as well as the United States.
The ceremony featured several speakers, all of whom focused on different aspects of what it means to celebrate, as well as observe, Memorial Day. As per tradition, a student from Old Rochester Regional Junior High School was chosen by the social studies department to read Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and this year, the honor went to Mary Kate McIntire.
“It’s an honor. My cousin [Sean Deery] did it last year and my grandmother [Katharine McIntire] did it a long time ago. I’m excited and I’ve been practicing a lot,” she said. “I think it’s important. A lot of people get excited to hear it because it’s a really important speech and I’m glad to be part of that.”
During his speech, veteran agent Barry Denham spoke of the deep importance of the tradition of Memorial Day, but warned that the town’s celebration may change as the ranks of the Florence Eastman Post 280 American Legion have been dwindling in recent years.
“We need your help to keep this going. Please, do everything you can to make sure that we can have this celebration,” Denham said.
James Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at Newport Naval War College, delivered the keynote address.
“It is right and fitting that we should honor the fallen,” he said.
Holmes spoke largely about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in which the late president insisted that the living must dedicate themselves to the vision of the nation for which the soldiers had laid down their lives.
“Today, we need to reaffirm out commitment. It’s more than a holiday. It’s a part of cultural upkeep, and it takes all of us to make good on this promise,” Holmes said.
Also participating in the ceremony and parade were representatives from the New Bedford High School Junior ROTC program, who performed the rifle salutes at each of the three parade stops. In addition, local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops marched with the Mattapoisett Fire Department Honor Guard. The Old Hammondtown Band, conducted by Paul Halpainy, provided the music. Mattapoisett residents lined the sidewalks down the main drag as the parade marched passed, waving flags, taking pictures, and saluting the nation’s colors as the Honor Guard carried them high and proudly.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, where people would lay flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers out of respect. Memorial Day was traditionally observed on May 30, but was moved to the final Monday of the month after Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968.
Rochester Remembers Fallen Veterans
By Katy Fitzpatrick
Memorial Day is often times characterized as the start of summer. It’s the beginning of a carefree, relaxed, warm-weather period of time. But amidst all of the cookouts and parties over the long weekend, it’s also important to stop and take a few moments to reflect on the thousands of people who have given their lives to fight for America’s freedom and keep the country safe.
On Sunday, May 27, the town of Rochester honored their fallen veterans with a ceremony that encompassed music, tradition and remembrance. Nearly 100 residents gathered at Town Hall where the festivities kicked off with a blessing from Pastor Leo Christian.
“It was a great turnout,” said Rochester Selectman Richard Nunes. “A lot of the kids and parents came out so it was good. The weather was fantastic. It was a great day to do it.”
After the blessing and a few opening remarks from Selectmen Brad Morse and Nunes, as well as Town Clerk Naida Parker, dozens of children lined up behind the town officials for a parade around the center of town, marching all the way from Town Hall to Daggett Square.
The Rochester Memorial School Band provided the patriotic tunes during the march while a group of ROTC cadets from New Bedford carried the flags. Several local Boy and Girl Scout troops carried their banners alongside the public safety officials dressed in their parade attire.
Upon arrival in Daggett Square at the World War II monument, the town officials each took turns reading the names of fallen soldiers from Rochester from the Civil War through the Korean Conflict. Boy Scouts placed new flags in front of the monument while the ROTC cadets presented a rifle salute and a RMS band member played Taps on the trumpet.
The parade headed back to Town Hall, where the officials honored the rest of the fallen soldiers from Vietnam to present day. Volunteer Veterans Coordinator Gordon Helm read the Gettsburg Address and State Representative William Strauss of Mattapoisett delivered the closing remarks.
The day was a perfect reminder of why it’s important to observe Memorial Day.
“It’s important to pay our respects to those who have served and fallen in the line of duty,” said Nunes. “We also have to remember that freedom isn’t free and we have to fight for it sometimes.