Marion procession honors Memorial Day

May 30, 2022

MARION — Music from not one, but two excellent marching bands floated on the breeze down Front Street on Monday morning during the town’s Memorial Day procession.

The event kicked off at the Marion Music Hall. 

Officials led the parade, followed by the Portuguese American Band, two military vehicles and a vintage Mercedes Benz and the Sippican School Band, which performed rousing renditions of “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Forward March.”

As the band began to move, much of the crowd fell in step behind for the walk to the Old Landing.

Spectators lined Front Street, sitting on stone walls, lounging on picnic blankets and standing with family and friends. 

At the Old Landing — the parade’s destination — Major Andrew Bonney of the US Air Force led a ceremony. 

Jack McLean, author of the best-selling “Loon: A Marine Story,” was the featured speaker at the event.
McLean enlisted in the Marines in 1966 after graduating from Phillips Academy, and went on to serve in the Vietnam War. He fought in the battle at LZ Loon. 

He opened his remarks by sharing memories of lost brothers-in-arms and acknowledging the family members and descendents of those men.

McLean said that more than one million Americans have died in wars since 1775.

“We are freely here because of them,” he said.

He spoke about the men who died in that battle, who hailed from across the country: “Forty of the very best young men that this country had to offer. Some of them were heroes, and I knew a few of them. Most, however, were just doing what they were trained to do and just had the great misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Not a single one of those men, he said, wanted to be remembered on Memorial Day.

“It is thereby incumbent upon us, the living, to exercise the sacred duty of remembering and honoring them,” McLean said. 

He said that Americans must continue to try to honor their sacrifice.

McLean said that when he graduated high school, he didn’t want to go to college right away — and that meant he had to enlist. He said the Vietnam War was just starting to heat up, and he was more nervous about boot camp than the service itself.

In the summer of 1967, he was deployed.

“I was not a hero. I did not want to be a hero,” McLean said. “But even at that tender age, I did see the honor inherent in service and willingly raised my hand and took the oath. And I came to well appreciate the obligation that we have to always remember those who never made it home.”

The ceremony was concluded with a prayer from Father Eric Fialho, another song by the Sippican Band and a performance of Taps.