Marion celebrates servicmembers, remembers sacrifice

May 27, 2019

MARION — Marion resident and Massachusetts Air National Guard Captain Andrew Bonney and the Selectmen held a ceremony to honor veterans who died in service at the Music Hall and Old Landing on May 27.

Marion’s Samuel Williamson read the governor’s Memorial Day proclamation, Alanna Fitzpatrick recited the poem “In Flanders Fields,” and Lauren Pallatroni from Old Rochester Regional also participated in the ceremony. The Sippican School Marching Band played several songs. 

After a parade and procession to Old Landing, recently-named Chair of the Board of Selectmen, Randy Parker, made his remarks about Marion’s tradition of planting flowers and placing flags on veterans’ graves. He said he was cheered to see so many young volunteers there, and hopes that volunteering will teach the next generation to appreciate veterans. 

Non-Marion guests also joined for the occasion. Bishop Orlando Harris said opening and closing prayers and Dr. James R. Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island delivered the keynote address. 

He spoke about Cyril Richard Rescorla, a British soldier who moved to America and changed citizenship to be able to fight with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Rescorla did give the “last full measure of devotion,” as Abraham Lincoln put it, but not in Vietnam. 

Instead, he became the security chief for Morgan Stanley, which had offices in the World Trade Center, a position he still held on Sept.11, 2001. 

Rescorla had devised and made Morgan Stanley employees practice evacuation plans. When he got instructions not to evacuate after the first plane hit the other tower, Rescorla responded with “military language best not repeated on a solemn occasion like this,” (as Holmes described it), and ordered Morgan Stanley employees out. He sang British and American patriotic songs over a bullhorn to keep morale up. 

He saved around 2,500 lives, and then decided to go back into tower to rescue other people. He was last seen ten minutes before the second tower collapsed and his remains were never recovered. 

Holmes emphasized that Rescorla could have gotten his charges out and could have come out alive. But he didn’t. 

“You learn patriotism by studying patriots and leadership by studying leaders,” Holmes said, to explain why he told Rescorla’s story. He emphasized the soldier’s role in helping others be their best selves. 

Selectmen ended the ceremony by placing a wreath at the veteran’s memorial and throwing a second wreath into the harbor to remember those lost at sea.