On a balmy Sunday morning under a dazzling sun, veterans, Coast Guardsmen, Scouts, and police officers gathered in front of Nancy’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs to begin the Veterans Day parade and ceremony to honor those who have served our country.
The parade included color guards provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Station Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard veterans groups, and Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Veterans from Island-wide and about a dozen police officers from the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown departments joined them.
They marched down Lake Avenue to Ocean Park for a ceremony to commemorate the German signing of the Armistice that ended World War One at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918. Parade organizer Peter Herrmann began the ceremony by recognizing the attendance of Curtis Jones, a U.S. Army colonel who was a prisoner of war in World War II. Mr. Herrmann led the crowd of about 200 in reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance,” followed by a prayer given by Lt. Col. David Berube, USAF, Air National Guard, who is the Oak Bluffs Police Department’s chaplain.
Guest speaker Lt. Col. Anthony “Tony” Manfredi Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), Commander of VFW District 17, gave special thanks to Dukes County Director Veterans Services Jo Ann Murphy and to the veterans, as well as their families, first responders, medical personnel, and others in the community that support them.
In recognition of Oak Bluffs as one of sixty-two regional Veterans Day observance sites designated nationwide, Mr. Manfredi read a message provided by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki for the ceremony.
“As Americans, we are blessed to live in a land of liberty and freedom,” Mr. Shinseki said. “For these blessings, we are indebted to the more than 42 million brave men and women who have served our nation during times of peace and times of war.”
Veterans deserve more than words, Mr. Shinseki added. “They have earned the right to obtain a proper education; access to affordable housing; medical care for their injuries and for healthy lives; a fighting chance at getting a decent job and living the very dream which they so proudly defended; and high honors when they are laid to rest.”
Former Minnesinger Haley Hewson, who came home from college for the weekend to take part in the ceremony, sang the National Anthem and “Amazing Grace.” Shauna Nute played “Taps” and patriotic songs on her trumpet.
Mr. Herrmann invited Jenny Seward of Vineyard Haven to place a wreath in front of the veterans’ memorial monument. Her brother, Lt. John Robert Painter Jr., was a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War and remains listed as missing in action.
A gun salute followed in honor of the soldiers who lost their lives during their service. The ceremony ended with a salute to the veterans by members of the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders, who rode past the crowd carrying flags representing all of the military services.