Memorial Day weekend colors Island red, white and blue


Post updated Monday, 3:30 pm to include photos from the Tashmoo Memorial Day Picnic.

Tisbury School’s March to the Sea

With not a cloud in the sky, Tisbury School students, faculty, and family members made their annual March to the Sea, honoring veterans and those who sacrificed their lives serving their country.

Accompanied by the Tisbury School marching band playing “Hand Clap,” the procession advanced down Spring Street and onto Main Street.

Kelly Sullivan, the instrumental music teacher at the Tisbury School, said she is excited to see her students perform. “We have been rehearsing all week,” said Sullivan. “It’s a great day to march.”

Proud parent Emily Coulter watched as her two daughters strolled past, both carrying American flags. “It’s so great to see,” said Coulter. “We even picked lilacs from the yard to throw in the ocean. I did the march when I was a kid, and now I’m here watching the next generation.”

Eighth-grade flag-bearers John Coogan, Oliver Dorr, Alison Custer, and Evelyn Silva held their flags high as they led the parade of smiling students toward Owen Park.

Tisbury Assistant Principal Sean Mulvey said the event is a great representation of the students’ pride in their country. “They really understand the significance of Memorial Day and the importance of recognizing our service members,” Mulvey said.

After Tisbury School Principal John Custer led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, the kindergarteners were the first to carry lilacs and other flowers onto the dock and toss them in the water. After all the flowers were thrown, the group moved back up to the top of the hill near the flagpole.

Custer said he is proud of his students for acknowledging the importance of Memorial Day. “These kids really get it. They know why they are here today,” said Custer.

There, under the waving stars and stripes, Alison and Oliver started off the ceremony. “Today continues the long history of the Tisbury School March to the Sea,” said Alison. “We continue this traditional march to honor our fallen heroes who have given their lives for our country, our families, and our homes.”

Alison explained the meaning behind placing flowers in the sea. “The flowers represent our gratitude for these men and women.”

After Alison spoke, student Annabelle Biggs sang an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem.

Oliver then honored Lance Corp. Woody Williams of the Marine Corps, Petty Officer Mark Seawell of the Coast Guard, Navy Data Processing Tech Walter Burke, Army Sergeant Bill Stafursky, and Air Force Lt. Colonel Bill Carroll. “We thank you for your commitment and service to our Island,” said Oliver.

Seawell, standing in full uniform next to his daughter, said this is his first march. “It’s my first time, but it’s my daughter’s third march,” said Seawell. “It’s a great cause, supporting the United States military and all the veterans.”

According to Seawell, the march brings people together, and is a day to celebrate family and loved ones.

After the veterans at the ceremony were recognized, retired sergeant and past post commander of American Legion Post 257 Jo Ann Murphy gave a moving speech that saluted the bravery and selflessness of fallen heroes.

“People seem to forget what Memorial Day stands for,” said Murphy. “It’s not just a three-day weekend. We really want to recognize the men and women who have lost their lives in the service of our country.”

Murphy asked people to come to Oak Grove Cemetery for the Avenue of Flags on Memorial Day and look for gravestones with stars engraved next to the name. “Those are the people who gave their lives in the service of their country,” said Murphy.

Murphy has served as the Dukes County director of veterans services for almost two decades, and has dedicated much of her time to advocating for veterans and representing those who have served in the armed forces.

“And there are still thousands and thousands of people today who are serving in harm’s way. We bless them all and think of them on Memorial Day weekend,” said Murphy.