Veterans, active service people and ordinary citizens gathered in Vineyard Haven on Memorial Day to remember those who dedicated their lives to a sacred purpose.
Wesley R. Winston, an army veteran of the Viet Nam era, read the names of fallen comrades. Four families received gold stars, a tradition that dates back to the First World War when mothers of fallen soldiers began calling themselves gold star mothers.
After a long weekend of rain, the weather Monday turned bright and sunny with a brisk sea breeze.
The Rev. David G. Berube, chaplain of the American Legion in Vineyard Haven and an Oak Bluffs police officer, delivered an inspiring speech focusing on freedom, equality and the duties of day-to-day citizenship.
“The very survival of our nation depends on we the people sharing the costs,” Mr. Berube said. “We all belong to each other.”
The annual Memorial Day parade began on Spring street mid-morning, proceeded past decorated graves and bright, large flags swelling in the wind before stopping at the Civil War Monument where Camden Emery, a Boy Scout, read the Gettysburg Address.
Mike Caroll, a retired captain of the Tisbury fire department, recited the Fireman’s Prayer and thanked the emergency medical services and police from Ware, Tex. and Moore, Okla.
Tony Peak performed Amazing Grace on bagpipes. Edson Rogers played Battle Hymn of the Republic and Taps, with John Schilling, the Tisbury fire chief, playing the echo. Natalie Wood gave a moving rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Jo Ann Murphy, a veteran and county director of veterans services, led the proceedings.
Monday marked the 21st anniversary of the Avenue of Flags, where volunteers set up and take down all 425 flags. The cemetery looked full and colorful.
Veterans and family members laid wreaths in memory of those fallen. Renee Ortiz, Jenny Painter, Mike Bettencourt and Bob Hagerty paid tribute to the four Vineyard soldiers lost in the Viet Nam War.
Mrs. Murphy said she was happy to see the variety of faces, young and old.
“It was fantastic,” she said. “A lot of the younger guys came out, which was very pleasing.” Afterward, veterans, service people and their families reminisced over a meal in the American Legion Hall.
For more photos, view our gallery Memorial Day Parade A Solemn Reminder of Sacrifice.