Islanders celebrate Memorial Day


Martha’s Vineyard will honor Memorial Day with a mixture of barbecues and solemn ceremonies of remembrance.

On Friday, the Edgartown School and Tisbury School will hold traditional parades to the sea. On Monday, Memorial Day, Island veterans’ groups will hold ceremonies at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Tisbury. Also that day, Tisbury will host its annual Memorial Day picnic, open to the public.

Americans nationwide have been asked to pause at 3 pm Monday for the National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress in honor of those who gave their lives in service.

School programs and marches to the sea

At 12:30 pm, Friday, Tisbury School students will leave the school grounds and begin their traditional March to the Sea via Spring Street and Main Street to Owen Park.

Grade by grade they will toss flowers into the water from the dock in memory of those who died in war. Then they will gather around the flagpole at the top of Owen Park for a ceremony that will include the singing of the national anthem by students Sophie Nelson, Leah Fortes, and Lorrane Menezes. Lorrane also will be a speaker, along with Barra Peak.

Guests will include Veterans Services Officer Jo Ann Murphy and Richard Monaco, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve who served three tours in Iraq.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Tisbury School gymnasium.

In a similar observance, Edgartown School children will leave their school at 1 pm on Friday and march down Main Street to Memorial Wharf.

A ceremony at the wharf will feature Lt. Col. Fred “Ted” Morgan USA (Ret.) as the guest speaker. An Edgartown selectman for almost 30 years, Mr. Morgan was a member of the 505th parachute infantry regiment, 82nd Airborne, during World War II. Singer Mark Lovewell will perform a few songs.

As something new this year, all students in grades K-8 will say the Pledge of Allegiance and also sign the words using American Sign Language. Sandy Paasche, the school’s licensed sign language interpreter, taught them sign language this year in support of a few classmates who are deaf. Ms. Paasche will provide interpreting services at Friday’s event as well.

The ceremony also includes recitations by the seventh and eighth graders and patriotic music by the school’s Eagle Band. Afterwards, students will toss flowers into Edgartown Harbor in remembrance of the nation’s war dead.

At Oak Bluffs School, all students will participate in a school assembly tomorrow at 1:10 pm, performing songs and recitations by grade that are relevant to Memorial Day. Veterans who are relatives of students as well as ones from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) posts have been invited to attend and share their stories. Fifth-graders Maddie Moore and Bell Denning will play “Taps” to end the assembly.

Tisbury veterans parade and ceremony

On Monday, Memorial Day, American Legion members will put up 400 flags starting at 7:30 am in Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven and take them down at 3 pm. Help from volunteers would be much appreciated.

At 9:30 am veterans from American Legion Posts 257 in Vineyard Haven and 186 in Edgartown and VFW Post 9261 will join in a parade. After stepping off from Post 257 opposite Tisbury School, they will proceed to the Avenue of Flags at nearby Oak Grove cemetery for a brief ceremony.

Guest speaker Maj. David Berube is a chaplain in the Air Force National Guard for the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air Force Base (AFB). He also is chaplain of the Oak Bluffs Police Department and an American Legion member.

Major Berube recently was deployed as a counselor to grieving families at Dover AFB. The Delaware base is the first stop on American soil where the remains of servicemen and women who died in Iraq or Afghanistan are returned.

Representatives of the branches of military services will lay wreaths at the Avenue of Flags. American Legion Post 257 Commander Kevan Nichols will lay another wreath at the cemetery’s Civil War Monument.

The Ladies Auxiliary from American Legion Post 257 will sell poppies at Vineyard Haven locations during the Memorial Day weekend and at the Tisbury parade. Proceeds are donated to a veteran’s hospital.

Tisbury picnic for everyone

Also on Monday, a Memorial Day Picnic open to everyone takes place from noon to 4 pm on the grounds of the Tisbury Water Works on West Spring Street off State Road. The location offers everyone the opportunity to see the progress made on the town’s restoration of the 1887 Tashmoo Spring building.

Those who attend should bring a picnic lunch and lawn chairs or a blanket. For picnickers who bring hot dogs and hamburgers, grills will be available until 3:30 pm, manned by a volunteer crew of cooks. Lemonade and ice cream will be available. The rain date is Sunday, June 6.

Entertainment includes live music by the Flying Elbows, as well as outdoor games, pony rides, and rowboat rides.

Picnic-goers are encouraged to take the bus, because parking is limited. VTA buses that travel the State Road route past West Spring Street will stop at the Tashmoo Overlook during picnic hours.