Island salutes veterans

Avenue of flags and small gathering mark Veterans Day.

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Jo Ann Murphy and a number of volunteers were at Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven at 7:30 am on Veterans Day, to put up the hundreds of flags as part of the Avenue of Flags. Although there was no flag ceremony due to COVID-19, folks were invited to drive through the cemetery during the day between 8 am and 3 pm and see all the flags and honor veterans.

Veterans gathered on the edge of Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs at 11 am for a modest ceremony in light of the pandemic. Over the course of a roughly 20-minute observance, Air Force Veteran David Berube led those gathered in prayer, and Murphy, commander of the American Legion in Vineyard Haven, explained that the Veteran’s Administration had designated the gathering as a national site of observance. Retired Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling played “Taps” and Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. 

A firing squad fired shots in salute of fallen veterans. Veterans of Foreign Wars Quartermaster Peter Herrmann told the group of Vineyard veterans assembled before him, “We all answered the call, which is something we can be proud of. Along the way, we have lost some of our brothers and sisters. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. On this day and every day, I’m proud to say I’m a veteran and I’m honored to be here with my brothers and sisters…”

Army veteran Tommy Morrison, a former communications sergeant who served on the firing squad Wednesday, told The Times that for him, Veterans Day musters thoughts of his late father.

“My pop was in Burma with Merril’s Marauders,” he said. 

Murphy later told The Times, a flag will be aloft at the American Legion throughout November in honor of Morrison’s father, Tommy Morrison, Sr.