Celebrating Memorial Day in Sag Harbor
By Andrew Rudansky
The air remained uncharacteristically still at Marine Park this Monday as several hundred people converged around the World War II monument in silence.Â
The Memorial Day Parade procession that strode down Main Street and made its way down Bay Street had arrived at the park for the final ceremony. In past years the parade usually terminates in front of the American Legion headquarters on Bay Street, however this year the route was cut short, ending instead on the more spacious and picturesque grounds of Marine Park.
That wasn’t the only change to the Memorial Day Parade this year, a fourth stop was added to the parade route at the recently renamed Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.Â
At the bridge, wreaths were placed near the obelisk memorial of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter where the firing squad offered a salute.
Local veteran Bruce Winchell said of the parade, “we try to touch all basis, I think we did pretty much our jobs today…it came out quite well.”
Veterans from five wars and several different conflicts stood and sat solemnly as the procession of speeches was given under a massive flag flying at half mast.Â
Each veteran was dressed in his or her own military uniforms creating a patchwork of white, blue, green and black garb. The Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Fighters showed up in force all sporting their sharp blue uniforms.
One veteran said, “It was very inspiring, brought me back to the days when I was in Vietnam, to see all the veterans standing around, it was very, very heart throbbing.”
Other community organizations that showed up to honor the veterans included the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Pierson school band and several local politicians.Â Â Â
Gold Star mothers JoAnn Lyles, mother of Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, and Nicolasa Arevalo, mother of SPC Orlando A. Perez, sat somberly in the front row for the ceremony. Arevalo cradled a framed picture of her son in her arms. The two Gold Star Mothers were mentioned several times throughout the speeches that lasted a little more than an hour.Â Â
Orators extolled the volunteer emergency organizations, the veterans in attendance and the brave men and women who lost their lives serving their country.
A roll call of the recently deceased was read aloud, a short prayer led by the American Legion Chaplain followed this.
The Chaplain asked the people in attendance to, “honor the memories of those brave soldiers, sailors, marines, marine merchants, airmen who gave us the supreme sacrifice, so we may experience freedom in a country that is free.”
One of the speakers this Memorial Day reminded the crowd that today was not just a day for veterans, “There are five other young men from Sag Harbor serving in the armed forces at this time.”
After the speeches ended and the service was over the throngs of spectators and parade participants filtered out of the park and into the 70-degree heat of the day.
Winchell wanted to emphasize that the day is meant to honor the departed, “it’s not a veterans day, today is the day for the men who gave their lives.”