The call of “left, right” from Dukes County veterans service officer and retired U.S. Army Sgt. Randy Dull rang out clearly under cloudy skies as the annual Veterans Day Parade marched through Oak Bluffs with a police escort. Led by the Coast Guard, the veterans received applause and salutes from Islanders as the procession made its way down Lake Avenue to Ocean Park, halting before the memorial that honored “the men of Oak Bluffs who served their country in the World War.”
This year’s parade was hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9261. Kicking off the ceremony, American Legion Post 257 commander Jo Ann Murphy welcomed the crowd and veterans. “It’s so nice to be here,” she said.
Former Legion commander and chaplain David Berube led a prayer for Veterans Day “not just out of tradition, but from gracious hearts to remember all of those who served our nation.”
“We paid tribute to all our veterans who answered the call to duty during peace or war, at home or around the world,” Berube said, giving recognition for families of veterans and “the fallen,” whose “devotion and sacrifice often go unseen” and praying for active duty service members overseas alongside those who are prisoners or missing.
The prayer was followed by Mary McDonald’s performance of the National Anthem, which earned a round of applause.
Dull read a Veterans Day proclamation from Gov. Charlie Baker thanking the “388,000 veterans living in Massachusetts,” who the state’s citizens were encouraged to honor for their sacrifices.
“We honor and salute those who have served our country, throughout the previous generations, with honor, patriotism, and courage,” Dull read.
Murphy called for veterans Ben Ferry and Matt Bradley to place the wreath in front of the memorial. Shots from the firing detail, done by Coast Guard E-3 fireman Isak Scraggs and Coast Guard E-4 machinery technician Jarrret Connor, were followed by retired Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling playing “Taps” on the trumpet.
The procession made its way down Sea View Avenue and down Oak Bluffs Avenue back to its original location, Nancy’s Restaurant. The Veterans of Foreign Wars hosted refreshments afterward.
The parade featured some town leaders and police chiefs participating in the celebration of veterans. Aquinnah select board member and U.S. Army veteran Tom Murphy was a part of the procession, as were Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain and Oak Bluffs Police Chief Jonathan Searle.
“It’s a great day,” Oak Bluffs select board member Brian Packish said.
Dull said the event “had a great turnout, both community and veterans.”
“We had a couple of Korean War veterans out today, we had a huge turnout for our Vietnam veterans, Gulf War, and then we had a couple of the newer generation veterans,” he said. “I just wanted to thank them … the way they pay for us and give us the freedom to choose.”
Another aspect that made the annual Veterans Day Parade special was that young Scouts participated in it, giving them an opportunity to meet people who served honorably in the military.
“It’s good to see the young kids coming out,” Dull said. “It also gives them a chance to meet community members, family members, friends to get good stories, stuff they loved, give them a little piece of family history and learn about the great things our country has to offer, and people offer to our country, too.”