As I am writing this column, I have just returned from the Memorial Day Parade in Tisbury. The day was bright with a nice cool breeze, and the marchers walked proudly to the cemetery with heads held high and many carrying flags. Lining all the avenues within my view as I entered the cemetery grounds were the flags, those banners of our freedoms, erected that morning by the many volunteers who faithfully assemble each year at this time to honor our veterans. Memorial Day invokes many memories for me. I remember the war years during the early forties on the Island. I remember air raid warnings, shortages of butter, coffee, and leather shoes, rationed gas, saving tin foil, everyone riding bikes, police dog patrols on the perimeter of the newly constructed Navy Air Base (now the Martha's Vineyard Airport), the steamship boats painted grey, and blackout curtains - among other things. Yet these were small sacrifices we had to make when we considered what sacrifices our veterans and their families made.
I especially remember the banners in the windows with the gold stars, and it was whispered that a son or husband or father had been lost. I remember my mother instructing my sisters and me when we were on the train going to my grandparents' in New Hampshire, that if a person in uniform came on the train and there were no seats, we must give them ours. I remember family friends returning from the war cruelly injured in body or spirit, and even a few concentration camp survivors finding sanctuary here but with their eyes still holding that look of unspoken horrors they had witnessed.
So this Memorial Day morning I stood to honor and to bear witness to all those present and those no longer here who made the sacrifices that allow me so many freedoms, and, as it always has, this day once again brought me to tears in my gratefulness.
The entire Oak Bluffs School staff and student body took part in a remembrance and recognition of Memorial Day with an assembly last Friday. Students performed songs and recited poems and readings reflecting our country's respect and homage to our veterans. Several local veterans were on hand, including staff members Ray Frazio, Rae Carter, and Brian Weiland, and special guests retired U.S. Army Tech. Sergeant Art Dickson, former U.S. Woman's Army Core member (Vietnam) Joanne Murphy, and Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Mev Good.
The Library Friends of Oak Bluffs will be holding their meeting on June 5 at 7 pm in the meeting room of the new Oak Bluffs Library. New members are always welcome.
During school break Ryan and Klye Bertos arrived on the Island for a week of fun with their grandmother Clara and Uncle Dan of County Road in Oak Bluffs. Joining them for the week was their cousin Kaylee Ann Tebo. It was the boys' first meeting with the newest addition to the family, Alyssia Lynn Marshall Sylvia, the two-and-a-half-month-old daughter of Kara Marshall and Brandon Sylvia. Throughout the week there were many family gatherings and a cookout. When the boys left for their home in Burrillville, R.I., they had tons of stories to tell and pictures to share. They are the children of Donna Marshall Ernst and David Bertos.
The PTSO of the regional high school invites parents and guardians to a Principal's Coffee Hour on Tuesday, June 6, from 8 to 9:15 am. The PTSO will welcome incoming families, have a "meet and greet," a brief tour of the building, and a question/answer segment that will be attended by the high school guidance counselor and various high school teachers. Veteran high school parents will be on hand to help to answer any lingering questions other parents or guardians may have.
Not to be missed this Saturday, June. 3, Matt Maher and his band from St. Timothy's Lifeteen in Mesa, Ariz., will be part of the Good Shepherd Parish LOST retreat for the Lifeteen Youth Group and many off-Island Youth Groups. Matt will be leading the music at the beach Mass, which will take place at the Oak Bluffs Pay Beach at 4 pm. All are invited to attend, and I can personally testify to the beautiful and sincere music that Matt composes and sings along with his band and also the sincerity of his leadership. I had the pleasure of hearing them last year in Arizona.
We send birthday smiles to Bert Combra and Lucas DeBettencourt on June 4, and anniversary congratulations to Bob and Ernestine Kinnecom on June 7.
Enjoy your week and send your news along to me.