On Martha’s Vineyard, 'March to the Sea' honors fallen soldiers

In a moving ceremony Friday, Tisbury School students and Island citizens initiated the Island’s Memorial Day weekend observances.


A crowd of enthusiastic family and friends lined Main Street in Vineyard Haven on Friday afternoon as 225 Tisbury School students and teachers paraded by on their annual March to the Sea to commemorate Memorial Day. Leading the procession were eighth grade flag bearers Keats Brown, Molly Carroll, Matthew Medeiros, and Miles Sidoti.

One of the many onlookers, Kristin Pucino Gibson, said she was there to see her son Aden Ross, 13, and a Tisbury School seventh grader, pass by. Ms. Gibson had left work to be among those taking part in the hometown ceremony.

“I’ve never been in a community that honors Memorial Day like this,” Ms. Gibson said. “The march and honoring our fallen heroes, just coming together, and all the events this weekend — you don’t find that everywhere.”

For Ms. Gibson and her son, who would be carrying a special bouquet, the holiday is a poignant reminder of loss. “We lost my cousin, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Pucino, in Afghanistan in 2009. He was a Green Beret, and he was killed in action in Pashay Kala, Afghanistan. Every day is Memorial Day for us, but it’s nice to see that other people acknowledge it when you live it.”

When the procession arrived at Owen Park, Tisbury School Principal John Custer welcomed everyone and led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Students Taylor Hughes, Taybor Estrella, Nick Cranston, and Jonathan Norton played “Taps,” the solemn notes echoing across the harbor. From the youngest to the oldest, students walked out on to the town dock in single file, and one by one tossed a flower into the water to commemorate those who have given their lives for their country.

Everyone then assembled around the new flagpole at the top of Owen Park, where Mr. Custer introduced Scott Tuttle from the Friends of Owen Park, who gave a brief history of Memorial Day observances in Vineyard Haven and gave special thanks to Myles Thurlow and John Anderson for their help in raising the new flagpole.

The student hosts for the ceremony, Molly Carroll and Miles Sidoti, then introduced Joann Murphy, retired sergeant in the United States Army, who thanked everyone, on behalf of the veterans present, for their show of support.

The flag was lowered to half-staff, the Tisbury School chorus and band played two verses of “America the Beautiful,” and the ceremony concluded.