Annual Memorial Day Parade this Monday
This year’s annual island Memorial Day Parade and ceremonies will take place on Monday, May 30, beginning at 7 a.m. at Veterans Square for families to honor fallen soldiers. The parade itself will commence down Watson Avenue at 10 a.m. onto North Road. The first stop of the parade is Four Corners Cemetery, located at the corner of Narragansett Avenue and North Road. The parade will continue and march down Narragansett Avenue towards East Ferry and stop at Veterans Square where the day’s observances will begin.
Memorial Day is a day set aside for Americans to remember the ultimate sacrifice our fellow countrymen and women have paid to our country while serving in the military. Jamestown has had its share of fallen heroes. Last year 24 island veterans passed away. This year Jamestown lost another 26. The Veterans Administration projects that this year our World War II vets will be dying at a rate of about 1,135 per day.
The families of Jamestown’s fallen heroes will meet early on the morning of Memorial Day at Veterans Square at 7 a.m. The families have graciously brought along the American flags which once draped the caskets of their loved ones. These flags, which now count in the 100s and date back to the Spanish-American War, are lovingly raised in honor of the island heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives for United States’ freedoms.
The Memorial Day observance on the island is a joint effort coordinated by all who are involved. “Very little has changed over the years,” said Bruce Livingston, president of the Friends of the Jamestown Seniors. Livingston is a veteran himself; he joined the Marines in 1944 and served for 30 years.
“People work very hard, especially at Veterans Square, to raise all the flags,” Livingston said. Pieces of pipe are used as the flagpoles and placed in a hole in the ground. After 3 p.m., everyone comes back to take down the flags, re-fold them properly and remove the flagpoles. “It’s a wonderful experience.”
Arnold Zweir Post 22, American Legion and Jamestown Memorial Post 9447, among others, commemorate the day with a parade. At 9:30 a.m. everyone in the parade meets at the Lawn Avenue School. The parade consists of floats, a fire truck, the community farm tractor, old cars, military vehicles and the Jamestown Community Band parading in a colorful line as they leave the school and march down Watson Avenue at 10 a.m. onto North Road.
Prayers will be offered by the clergy of the island’s three main churches: Rev. Kathryn Palen from Central Baptist Church, Father William O’Neill from St. Mark Church and Rev. Kevin Lloyd from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. A wreath will be dropped into the bay waters and the Jamestown Community Band will play “Taps.”
“This year we have a very special and honored guest,” Livingston said. “John B. Hattendorf will speak to the town’s Memorial Day crowd.”
Hattendorf is the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport. He has held that position since 1984. In 2003, he was also named chairman of the Maritime History Department and director of the Naval War College Museum.
A U.S. naval officer during the Vietnam War era, Hattendorf served at sea on three destroyers and earned a commendation from the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet for his combat service. Ashore, he served as an officer at the Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and at the Naval War College.
After the speech, the ceremony will close with prayers from the island’s religious leaders. The crowd will disperse and Jamestown will have marked another Memorial Day. The families of fallen veterans will meet again at Veterans Square to spend time reflecting on the lives of each of the fallen American heroes as well as those who currently serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.