Schoolchildren in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven and Chilmark kicked off the Memorial Day weekend Friday with their traditional march to the sea ceremonies. They recited poetry and the Gettysburg Address, listened to remarks, played Taps and dropped flowers into the sea to commemorate those who have lost their lives in wars.

Tisbury School students were led by color guard. — Jeanna Shepard

In Tisbury, children marched to Owen Park and along Main street.

In Chilmark, children assembled at the Menemsha Coast Guard station and then walked to the harbor.

In Edgartown it was more of a skip to the sea, as the children scampered down to the Memorial Wharf, along the way dropping their lilac stems and picking them up again, dragging fingers along fences and waving to parents. Some held hands, some wore red, white and blue ribbons in their hair. Their voices rose in summery air on a breezy, sunny day.

There were somber notes too.

Edgartown police officer James Craig, who served in the Navy from 1987 to 1993, stepped up to the microphone and pointed out the veterans in the crowd.

“Try and share in this vision with me,” he said. “Standing beside each veteran, invisible to you, but seared permanently into our minds, is a fallen comrade.”

He went on to describe five fallen soldiers, each with a connection to a present Vineyard veteran. He remembered Lieut. Rich Calderon, a friend and fellow sailor who died in a helicopter crash in 1991.

Edgartown ceremony was held at Memorial Wharf. — Steve Myrick

“Rich looked like the prince in a Disney movie, tall, dark and handsome, a big smile all the time, thrilled to have just married the girl of his dreams,” Mr. Craig said.

“After the Navy, I returned to our community, where I live and work beside you,” he said, emotion in his voice. “Each day, I live. Each day, I get older. But Rich is forever 26 years old and as handsome as can be.”

Mark Alan Lovewell performed two songs on the banjo and was joined by the crowd in a rousing rendition of This Land Is Your Land.

Conrad Kurth, a Vietnam veteran and former longtime custodian at the school, attended as well.

The children each contributed to the memorial. Some brought flowers to be scattered in the sea. Three kindergarten girls left a basket of flowers in front of the Edgartown veterans’ memorial outside the courthouse. Sixth graders led the Pledge of Allegiance. Together, seventh graders recited Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain! Eighth graders recited the Gettysburg Address.

The Edgartown Eagle Band played My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, and fifth grader Jameson Whitmarsh closed the ceremony with Taps.

“It felt good,” Jameson said of his performance. “The hardest part was reaching the high C.”

He did so perfectly. The brief note sailed out over the crowd of children, teachers, parents, and veterans, out into the water of the harbor, where flowers for fallen soldiers floated toward the sea.