They came ramrod straight and bent over walking canes. They came in dress whites, dress blues, dress browns and combat fatigues. They came with badges and medals, wrinkled brows and the fresh faces of youth, all to honor those who have fallen in defense of these United States of America.

Air National Guard Col. Virginia Noonan from Falmouth was featured speaker. — Mark Lovewell

In addition to the military veterans, about 100 people gathered at the Tisbury School gym to observe Memorial Day on Martha’s Vineyard. The planned parade was canceled and the wreath laying ceremony forced indoors for the second year in a row by inclement weather.

As rain fell steadily outside, the ceremony began with prayers and a moving rendition of the national anthem by Natalie Wood.

Air National Guard Col. Virginia Doonan, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Joint Base Cape Cod, addressed those gathered on the history and importance of Memorial Day. She talked about the courage, pride and determination of those who have fallen in American wars.

“Our opportunity is to use this day to inspire new generations to understand the freedom they have been given,” Colonel Doonan said. “To grasp how and why it is theirs, and to dedicate themselves to pass it on to generations unborn.”

Veteran David Kahn helps lay a wreath. — Mark Lovewell

She singled out a group of fallen airmen for special recognition, telling the story of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing stationed at Otis Air Force Base. A crew of 16 took off on April 25, 1967 on a defense mission. The pilot was Col. James P. Lyle, Jr., 47, commander of the 551st Airborne. The crew of 16 almost immediately found themselves dealing with an engine fire that spread into the cabin.

Colonel Lyle, instead of risking a crash in a populated section of Nantucket, attempted to land the aircraft offshore. All but one of the crew was lost.

“He potentially saved numerous lives on Nantucket, by not landing on the Island,” Colonel Doonan said.

Following the address, Dukes County veterans agent Jo Ann Murphy read the names of those Island veterans who have died since last Memorial Day. The list follows.

Natalie Wood gave moving rendition of National Anthem. — Mark Lovewell

World War II: George E. White, George Santos, S. Bailey Norton, Robert Lunbeck, Richard Doane, Earl B. Richards, Lynn C. Murphy, Howard Attebery, Nelson Smith, Samuel B. Issokson and Thomas Brennan.

Korea: Arthur BenDavid, Vernon Jernegan, Harold Hall, Ralph Jones, Robert Kinnecom, Shirley Kaeka, H. Glenn Carpenter and Phillip Reynolds.

Viet Nam: Robert Fauteux, John Bettencourt, Robert Priore, John L. Stenroth, John Kenney, Douglas Look and Peter Bettencourt.

Also honored were Edward Fedor and Neva Thornhill, who served in peacetime, as well as veterans David McDonough and Anthony Guyther.

The ceremony ended with the placing of memorial wreaths for those who died in World War I, World War II, the 450 known veterans from Martha’s Vineyard, the victims of Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack, the Civil War, Korea, Vietnam, and the Merchant Marine.