Town Column

Oak Bluffs

By Megan Alley
Click here to contact Megan

Posted May 24, 2007

The town is putting on its best dress for the coming Memorial Day weekend. Workers have been busily planting new shrubs and flowers in the parks and re-seeding roadside areas. Unfortunately the "spoilers" have also been doing their best to mess up this hard work in a few places. For some unknown reason some people seem to think that driving onto newly seeded roadsides and leaving deep ruts is their mission in life. If they don't grow up, I predict that those deep ruts will be the only impression they leave in our memories. My parents used to say "always leave things in better shape than you find them." Wish the "spoilers" had that lesson to listen to.

We send birthday smiles to Keith Crossland on May 20, Bob Williston on May 25, and on the same date happy eighth birthday to Jack Garrett. Freya Grunden will celebrate on May 28, followed by William Barry Macdonald Lima on May 26, when he will be ten - or double digits, as he would say.

For the second year in a row the Memorial Day Picnic at the Tashmoo Waterworks is welcoming all Island residents. The picnic will be on Monday, May 28, from 12 noon until 4 pm. There will be free pony rides, ice cream, rowing games, and live music by the Flying Elbows and Tristan Israel. Bring a picnic lunch or something to grill. Grills will be provided and the VTA bus #3 will stop and pick up and drop off passengers at the Tashmoo Overlook by the picnic entrance. The rain date is June 3.

The library's last age 6-10 storytime until after June will be Friday, May 25, at 3:30 pm. The storytime will be about butterflies, but since the Fairy House Building project was rained out, if it is nice weather and the kids would rather do that, that will be the program. Wednesday, May 30, at 10:30 am preschool storytime will be about trucks and Thursday, May 31, at 3:15 pm is Dance, Dance Revolution for ages ten and up.

The Vineyard Committee on Hunger will be holding a bake sale on Saturday, June 2, from 9 am until 2 pm or until sold out. The Island-wide event will be held on Main Street in Vineyard Haven under the Linden Tree next to the movie theater, rain or shine. Bakers are asked to drop off donations at 8:30 am that Saturday morning and buyers to come by at 9 am. Please come and support this worthy cause.

Pictures and commentary of three wonderful weeks spent touring the continent of Africa will be presented by Harvey and Ellie Beth at the Oak Bluffs Library on May 31, at 7 pm. This fascinating trip included a week on safari as well as at schools and Masai villages in Kenya and a week in Egypt along the Nile River.

The Memorial Day Assembly at the Oak Bluffs School will be Friday, May 25, at 8:30 am. The K through grade one Spring Concert is May 29 at 6:30 pm and the All-Island String Concert for Grades 1 through 8 will be May 30 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the Performing Arts Center.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an item in this column regarding Commander Scott Cooledge's mission to collect items for children in Afghanistan where he is stationed. Scott is a nephew of Nancy and Donald Billings and they made a special point of telling me how gratefully all donated items were received. Now the Billings's daughter Amy has sent me another communication from Scott. I have tried to never make this column political and I continue with this policy. I greatly respect those who march for peace and also those individuals who put their lives on the line to protect this country or come to the aide of anyone or country that needs their protection and help. I believe that no one thinks that war is glamorous, neither peace marchers or veterans, but that they are sincerely doing what their conscience directs them to do. Perhaps on this eve of another Memorial Day this letter from Scott will tell you of the other side of war and violence and how he has found another purpose for his mission. The following is the complete text of the e-mail he sent to Amy.

"Incredible day in Kawaja Omari. Tough trip up to this area down a long dirt road with a long history of troubles but at the end of it was a rainbow. The pictures show the ribbon cutting for some of the 2,000 school tents we recently bought for the Province, delivered only last week they are already having an incredible impact. Just two weeks ago all these young ladies either did not attend school or had to learn while sitting under a tree in an open field when it wasn't too hot or raining. Today they were all in school. There must have been over 1,000 girls at this one site. This is the first time I have seen this many girls in school and the first time I have seen a girl over the age of 13 in school. There are no hideous Burkas in these pictures. There was so much hope and so many smiles it was all I could do to maintain my composure. I looked around and saw more that one man in body armor carry a weapon today with tears in his eyes. This is what your tax dollars did today. This is what your American soldiers and sailors did today. Don't dare let anyone back there tell you that we don't belong here or that we should just pack up and come home. If someone tells you that, you show them these pictures, show them the one of the girls standing in the tent and tell them to look into the eyes of the young girl holding the dish of candy on the far right. Look at her smile and tell them they are walking away from her. I guess we should just put a Burka on her, sell her to the highest bidder, lock her up in a mud hut and beat her because if we give up and go home that will surely be her future. We belong here, this was a good day for America, this is why I came to this place. I hope you enjoy seeing these pictures as much as I did taking them ... P.S. two days ago we lost more American treasure. The former XO of our sister unit here on the FCB was ambushed and gunned down at a meeting up on the border, very good man, wife, two kids, four and six. Put 'em in your prayers."-Scott

So this Memorial Day, please remember all those who protected so many in the past and are doing so in the present. Show your support for them and our country by attending the Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28. The parade starts off at 9:30 am from the American Legion Hall in Tisbury to the cemetery where a brief ceremony will be held. Fly your flag proudly and always remember all the people who kept us and the world safe and continue to do so.