A Saturday morning overcast melted away to the patriotic strains of the Navy Band Northeast, much to the delight of onlookers, which included a soaring osprey, at a rededication ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven on Flag Day.
The ceremony began with a parade led by Island veterans and color guards from the Dukes County Sheriff’s office and Coast Guard Station Menemsha, that marched from St. Augustine’s Catholic Church on Franklin Street and proceeded down along Main Street and on to Veterans Memorial Park. Spectators on the sidewalk applauded as the Navy Band passed by in perfect step and tune.
At the field, purchased and constructed over 50 years ago by “members and friends of Gen. Geo. W. Goethals Post 257, American Legion, Vineyard Haven,” Navy Band leader Lt. Commander Carl J. Gerhard handed his baton to Legionnaire organizer, and trumpeter for all occasions, Edson Rodgers for the playing of the national anthem.
As local boy scouts raised the Stars and Stripes, an osprey circled its nearby nest atop a light pole and sang out.
Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy described the efforts of the men who built the park. “It’s fitting that on this day we remember what they accomplished,” she said.
The ceremony also honored Legionnaire Fred Thifault, the only remaining member of the park’s original building committee. “I’m blessed that I’m able to be here 50 years later,” he told the crowd who applauded in appreciation.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Ms. Murphy thanked “everyone who chipped in today, and 50 years ago to make today possible.”
And with that, the band struck up a lively march, whetting the appetites of onlookers, many of whom looked forward to a free Navy Band concert at 7 pm, Saturday night at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.