Vineyarders come together on Memorial Day


Hundreds of Islanders marched with veterans and members of the armed services in Monday’s annual Memorial Day Parade, which kicked off at the American Legion Post 257 in Vineyard Haven and traveled to the nearby Oak Grove Cemetery.

Thick fog, overcast skies and light drizzle put the kibosh on many visitors’ beach and picnic plans, but the parade was one of several annual events that went forward despite the dour weather. 

The dozens of paraders in uniform hailed from a wide range of departments and groups, including the United States Coast Guard’s Menemsha Station, the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, Vineyard police departments, and the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA.

When they arrived at Oak Grove, marchers congregated around the entrance to the Avenue of Flags, a line of U.S. and armed services flags erected annually by Jo Ann Murphy, an Army veteran and Legion Commander at Post 257. Murphy and her American Legion colleagues set up nearly 450 flags at the cemetery on Monday.

Taking the podium, Senior Chief Nicholas Grim of the US Coast Guard’s Station Menemsha spoke about the importance of honoring lost service members.

“No written words can express our gratitude for the patriotism, dedication to country, and the call to a higher purpose that each man and woman of the armed services displays daily,” Grim said. 

“This is especially true for those that laid down their lives for their country. This is not my day. This is not your day. This is not our day. This is their day,” he said. 

Grim asked that the crowd to consider the sacrifices of members of the armed services throughout the day.

“Today, as we go about enjoying our friends and family, remember those that laid down their lives to secure the right to life and liberty. Take a moment to consider the cost of freedom … Do not take it for granted,” 

Murphy then called on attendees to lay wreaths, each at a monument to honor lost soldiers from different wars, as well as those lost on 9-11. All present then stood at attention for a gun salute, and a performance of “Taps.” 

Murphy also read for paraders the names of Vineyard veterans who passed away in the last year.

After the ceremony, paraders marched to the cemetery’s Civil War memorial, after which the crowd returned to Post 257 to conclude.

Dozens of Vineyarders then got together at Tashmoo Waterworks for an annual Memorial Day Picnic. This year’s featured live music; cornhole, a three-legged race and other outdoor games; and boating opportunities for children on Lake Tashmoo.

The picnickers also surrounded a hot dog stand manned by familiar faces. Christina Colarusso and John Cahill of the Tisbury select board — as well as town treasurer John Snyder and others — served hot dogs to attendees of all ages. Town officials set up a donation jar to benefit the old Tashmoo Spring Building at the waterworks site.

All the picnic’s food was a community affair, with ice cream supplied by the Town of Tisbury, rolls from Cronig’s Market, and watermelon from Stop & Shop.

Local musicians kept people’s spirits high throughout the afternoon. The Flying Elbow’s fiddle band tore through “Fly Around My Blue-Eyed Gal” and other songs, and attendees around the Spring Building enjoyed  “The Star-Spangled Banner,” from the All-Island Youth Chorus.

“My favorite part is that kids get to row their own boats in the pond,” said Lorraine Wells, chair of the Tisbury picnic committee and Spring Building management committee.


  1. I am the Chairperson of the Tisbury Picnic Committee and the Tashmoo Spring Building Management Committee but not the President of Tisbury Waterways,Inc., which is a separate private non profit.

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