“So much for Memorial Day being just Monday,” joked Dukes County veterans agent JoAnn Murphy while giving the Times a full lineup of events slated to take place this weekend in celebration and remembrance of veterans. She’s right — as the summer season kicks into gear, so will Islanders, to honor those who dedicated their lives to serving their country.
Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has a slew of events occurring throughout the week, thanks to science teacher Jason Neago, an Air Force Special Operations veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves in the Air Force Reserves, and is assigned to Pacific Air Forces.
Students had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers who have served in various capacities, are actively serving, or are veterans from various branches of the military throughout the week during their flex period, from 9 to 9:45 am. The week cumulates on Friday, May 24, with a flag ceremony set to begin at 9:15 am. Father Denis Edward O’Brien (USMC) will give a welcome and a reading of “The Soldier,” followed by “Taps” played by Oliver Hughes, the flag raising by members of USCG Station Menemsha, and singing of the national anthem. To cap off the ceremony, Jamie Craig will speak to students about the importance of Memorial Day.
Oak Bluffs School will kick off the weekend’s events with a Memorial Day celebration at its community meeting at 8:30 am to honor those who have served. All students will participate in this event, which brings faculty and families together in honor of local veterans and their families. Following the community meeting, the Coast Guard will join everyone for flag folding.
Chilmark School will kick off its March to the Sea at 9:15 am from Station Menemsha, flowers in hand to toss to the sea following readings of poems and the playing of “Taps.” The Coast Guard will then take time to speak to the students about the importance of celebrating Memorial Day before the kids head back to school.
At 12:30 pm on Friday, the Tisbury School will have its own annual March to the Sea. Students, faculty, and families will step off from Spring Street, head down Main Street, and end the march at Owen Park, reconvening after their time at the sea at the top of the hill by the flag pole for a ceremony.
Edgartown School students, per tradition, will also March to the Sea, kicking off their walk to Memorial Wharf at 1 pm. The seventh graders will recite “O Captain! My Captain!” while the eighth graders will recite the Gettysburg Address. Major James Hagerty, USMC, the Edgartown town administrator, will speak, and Mark Lovewell, a singer-songwriter, will perform “Roll, Alabama, Roll” and “Pleasant and Delightful.”
West Tisbury School will take a moment to reflect as a school on Friday at around 2 pm, in its annual school meeting to celebrate Memorial Day. The school’s band will offer a concert, and guest speakers will address the importance of the holiday.
Sunday the Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5K and Fun Run will take place, kicking off at 9:30 am, offering a course that will bring runners around Oak Bluffs Harbor and East Chop Lighthouse. All proceeds from the event benefit Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.
On Monday, at 7:30 am, veterans will hang 450 flags in Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven for the annual Avenue of Flags. They will be displayed until 3 pm.
The Memorial Day Parade will kick off from the American Legion in Vineyard Haven at 10:30 am, and Vineyard Haven’s annual Memorial Day picnic takes place from noon to 4 pm at Tashmoo Waterworks, with live music, boating, games, and more, all accessible by VTA buses. Everyone is welcome, and encouraged to bring their own picnic food to eat before free ice cream is served. All that’s asked is that Fido stays at home.
All flags will be put to half-staff at the beginning of the day, and returned to the top of their poles at noon.