A weekend of remembrance and celebration
Although clouded by the recession - and a little rain - the Island's Memorial Day weekend activities nonetheless provided a traditional mix of respectful remembrance and pre-summer celebration.
Starting at 7:30 am on Memorial Day, about 35 volunteers, from preschoolers to octogenarians, set up 425 flags at Tisbury's Oak Grove Cemetery. Morning clouds gave way to sun at 9:30 am when a parade stepped off from American Legion Post #257, across from the Tisbury School.
Police, fire, and ambulance personnel from Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury took part, as did members of the Dukes County Sheriff's department. Brownies, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts also marched in the parade, along with Tisbury selectmen Tristan Israel and Jeff Kristal.
At the parade's end at Oak Grove Cemetery, about 250 people gathered for a ceremony at the Avenue of Flags memorial. Natalie Wood, a seasonal visitor, sang the National Anthem and Girl Scout Megan Mendez led the Pledge of Allegiance. Oak Bluffs police officer and chaplain David Berube offered a prayer.
Guest speaker Col. Anthony E. Schiavi, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, reminded everyone of Memorial Day's meaning.
"President Franklin Roosevelt said, 'Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them,'" said Colonel Schiavi. "With the hectic lives we lead today, it might be easy to think of Memorial Day as merely a three-day weekend."
It is much more than that, he added. "It is a time for our Nation to reflect, to remember and honor the airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Mariners, and civilians, who made the ultimate sacrifice defending or supporting our great country, its interests and its ideals," the colonel said.
At 10 am he paused in his remarks for a flyover by a Blackhawk UH-60 helicopter out of Camp Edwards, piloted by CW5 James McCabe of the Army National Guard. Tony Peak played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes following Colonel Schiavi's speech.