On May 28, the residents of Mattapoisett once again turned out in high numbers to attend the Memorial Day observance sponsored by the American Legion Florence Eastman Post 280.
Opening the day’s event was Legion Commander Michael Lemoureux who then invited Legion Chaplain Richard Langhoff to give the prayer.
Tri-Town veterans’ agent and long-time legion member Barry Denham, along with veterans’ agent clerk Jo-Ann O’Malley, organized the afternoon event that included just about all the current legion members, Mattapoisett’s Board of Selectmen, and special guests.
Denham said it wasn’t a secret that the Legion “was getting short on veterans.” He said that since 1897, Mattapoisett has held ceremonies to commemorate and honor those who served the nation. He said that without the support of the community, the day’s observances would be harder to pull together and asked those in attendance to assist in any way possible.
State Representative William Straus spoke to the commitment of military personnel. “We strive everyday to accomplish things for ourselves,” whereas servicemen and women are accomplishing things for a greater goal. He said there are thousands of people we do not know who are working for us everyday, and on Memorial Day it is good to remember them all.
Selectman Jordan Collyer spoke about his grandfather who had served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He said that although he enjoyed many frank conversations with his grandfather, he now wished he had asked more questions, plumbed the aging vet’s memories, and learned more about the man he loved and respected.
Collyer said he has had the opportunity to meet two of his grandfather’s military friends and had kept up with the two gents until their passing. He urged everyone to take the time to “thank a vet,” and talk to family members who have served before it’s too late.
Special guest speaker was Colonel Chris Kidd of the U.S. Army. Before speaking, Kidd told The Wandererthat Memorial Day was hard because it was not a day of celebration but a day to remember those who have died in the line of duty or served our country. But he hoped to lend a personal note, one that others might find rings true for them as well. Kidd also shared that this was his first time visiting Mattapoisett and his last time to speak professionally at a public event, for he is retiring.
Kidd, whose long list of accomplishments took Lemoureux some minutes to read off, is currently stationed at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. The list of deployments and service related relocations included tours of duty in the Middle East, where he witnessed the process of preparing a deceased soldier for the return trip home to their Gold Star families. He said during the preparations in the field as the deceased’s personal possessions as well as their body is readied for the trip, and during the in-field ceremony where their boots are lined up and their helmets placed on top, “[It] is the only time you won’t hear a soldier complain about standing at attention.”
“It becomes a hometown experience,” when military personnel are returned to their families, said Kidd.
Kidd said that today there are approximately 200,000 servicemen and women serving around the globe. And while no one wants war, he said, “Maybe there is something worse than war.” He said protecting the safety of our nation and making the supreme sacrifice was “the ultimate price of freedom.”
“It’s good to understand the meaning of Memorial Day,” Kidd said in closing. He received a standing ovation.
Adding to the somber respective tone of the occasion were members of the New Bedford High School JROTC Battalion. Led by Commander Jose Correjo were Hailey Dominik, Dennis Pratt, and Joseph Ellis. The group performed the duties of the color guard during the opening at Center School and the closing at Shipyard Park.
Earlier in the program, Mackenzie Wilson read the Governor’s Proclamation, and Ethan Perez-Dormitzer recited the Gettysburg Address. Under the direction of Cara Kinney, the Old Hammondtown School Concert Band performed patriotic musical interludes.
Boy Scout Troop 53 and members of the Mattapoisett Fire Department added to the parade that exited the school and stopped at the Civil War and WWI monuments located at the library on Barstow Street, as well as at the plaque commemorating Florence Eastman. Old Hammondtown School music students Cole Volkema and Taylor Londergan played“Taps.”
Observances culminated at Shipyard Park where flowers were placed in the water to honor those lost at sea.
If you are interested in assisting with the 2019 Memorial Day program, you may contact the Tri-Town Veterans’ Office or the American Legion Post at 508-758-4100 ext. 7 or email email@example.com. You may also visit the Facebook page of the American Legion Florence Eastman Post 280.
By Marilou Newell