‘March to the Sea’ honors soldiers’ sacrifice

Tisbury School students didn’t let the day’s weather rain on their parade.

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A student tosses flowers into the sea. —Sam Moore

There was a little rain, but the “March to the Sea,” a Memorial Day tribute where Tisbury School students and staff honor those who have died in their nation’s service, marched on.

“Memorial Day isn’t just a three-day weekend,” Jo Ann Murphy, retired sergeant in the U.S. Army, past post commander of the American Legion; and the current Dukes County veterans service officer, said before the flag was lowered to half-staff on Friday afternoon. “It’s to honor the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform who lost their lives for the service of our country.”

On Monday at 3 pm, there will be a national moment of silence, and Ms. Murphy urged people to participate.

About 315 students carried roses, lilacs, and other flowers in the parade from the Tisbury School to Owen Park, and threw the flowers into the harbor to commemorate those who gave their lives for their country.

John Custer, Tisbury School principal, opened the ceremony, thanking the town of Tisbury for supporting the tradition, and the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The student hosts were Owen Metell and Izabella Espinoza.

Mr. Custer honored Bill Carroll, lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Air Force; Bill Stafursky, sergeant of the U.S. Army; and Walter Burke, DP3 of the U.S. Navy, thanking them for their service to both the country and the Island.

The solemn notes of “Taps” filled the gray harbor as Nick Cranston, Jonathan Norton, and Taybor Estrella played their trumpets. Sydney Brown, Asher Gates, and Maria Clara Lacerda sang the National Anthem before Owen Metell lowered the flag to half-staff. The school band played “America the Beautiful,” and people joined in song.

Melinda Loberg, a Tisbury selectman, told The Times she often comes to the ceremony to see her neighbor’s children participate. “It’s just the sweetest community celebration,” she said.

Carol Salguero, a resident of Tisbury, told The Times it was her first time attending the event, although she had been to a similar one in Gloucester. She said it was an old tradition for seafaring communities. “It’s a lovely one to have here as part of a seafaring heritage,” Ms. Salguero said.

“I was actually proud of the town of Tisbury for showing up in the rain to support Memorial Day and the kids’ tradition,” Sean Mulvey, Tisbury School associate principal, said.

Mr. Custer described the decision to brave the weather in an email to The Times after the event. Student hosts Owen Metell, Michael Trusty, Hunter Meader, and Izabella Espinoza went with Mr. Custer to Owen Park to practice for the ceremony.  After practicing, they went to have doughnuts, and while they were eating, they met Joseph Costa, who was wearing a “U.S. Air Force Veteran” cap, who joined them and asked what they were doing. Mr. Custer explained that they’d been rehearsing for the “March to the Sea,” and were trying to decide whether to go in the rain.

Mr. Costa told them that he attended the Tisbury School, and remembered participating in the “March to the Sea” in the 1940s. He shared with them his experience in the Air Force, and they shook his hand, and asked what his thoughts were regarding the parade and the weather. “It’s just water, it’s not like anyone’s going to melt,” Mr. Costa said, and that’s all the students needed to hear.

Mr. Custer said he was proud of the students for marching in the less than desirable weather. “They didn’t care if they got wet,” he said.

There are several Memorial Day celebrations taking place throughout the weekend, including Martha’s Vineyard March for Heroes at 6:30 am on Saturday, starting at the VFW Post 9261 in Oak Bluffs, and the 24th annual Oak Bluffs Memorial Day Road Race at 10 am on Saturday. On Monday, there is a Memorial Day Parade at 10 am, beginning at the American Legion in Tisbury.