A mask-free Memorial Day in Marion, Mattapoisett

May 31, 2021

Last year, in-person Memorial Day services were stopped by covid — this year, the only thing in the way was a little drizzle.

Marion’s Memorial Day services were held at the Old Landing Veterans Memorial, where the Sippican School Band and Portugese-American Band provided the music for a remembrance which included a slew of speakers.

The event was emceed by Andrew Bonney of the Air National Guard, with Dr. Steve Pierce, Assistant to the Dean for Technology and Innovation at the College of Distance Education at U.S. Naval War College in Newport, acting as a special guest speaker.

“As my, and many families know, sending a loved one to combat is a profoundly frightening experience that is swiftly followed by a worry that adorns until their loved one returns home,” Pierce said.

Pierce recounted his family's experience with loss: His father died in Vietnam when he was a child.

“I was at my mother’s side when that knock on the door came,” he said. “Though I was only four years old, I can recall that moment, and how it affected my mother, with perfect clarity more than 50 years later.”

The remembrance included a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Old Rochester Regional High School junior Eddie Gonnet, a performance of “God Bless America” by Breigh Christopher, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Marion Boy and Girl Scouts and a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by Tabor Academy junior Catherine Terelak, among others.

“It’s good to see everyone here, especially after a year of isolation,” Select Board Chair Norm Hills said in a speech to attendees.

Hills thanked those who have served and lost their lives.

“This is a time to remind ourselves that freedom isn’t free, and is brought by the immense collective sacrifice of our sons and our daughters, and our mothers and our sisters, and our brothers and our fathers,” he said.

In Mattapoisett, a short service began at noon, honoring the dead first at the memorials outside the Mattapoisett Free Public Library, then at Town Wharf.

Selectman Jordan Collyer and State Rep. Bill Straus each presented citations to now-retired Veterans Agent and Highway Surveyor Barry Denham, who worked with the town for over 20 years.

“You know, somebody told me a long time ago that if you like what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Denham said. “Well I’ve never worked a day in my life, so I must like what I do.”

The ceremony in Mattapoisett concluded at Town Wharf, where a bouquet was thrown into the water in honor of those who lost their lives at sea.

Before the laying of a wreath at the Marion ceremony, Bonney read the names of all the Marion veterans who died in the last year: John H. McCain II, Robert J. Zora, Joseph E. Singleton, Roger H. Hatch, Edward Maguire, Stephen J. Moran, John V. Spivey, Albert R. Hunt, Alan D. Wehr, Francis W. Bessey, James Goddu, Arthur Seifert, Theodore E. Kirchner, Theodore Mach Jr., Cornelius H. Cooper, William A. Sobieraj, Roland Leo Dastous, Michael Reed, Joseph S. Gumlak, Robert Ellis.