A sizable crowd of veterans and onlookers gathered in Ocean Park Wednesday morning under gray skies and warm temperatures for a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day.
With six feet of space between them, veterans from all branches of the military assembled for the ceremony.
A traditional parade from Nancy’s Restaurant to Ocean Park was canceled this year due to the Covid outbreak.
VFW Post 9261 quartermaster Peter Herrmann welcomed his fellow veterans, their families and everyone else who came out to show support. Mr. Herrmann recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said he felt very fortunate “to be with such a distinguished group that we call veterans.”
“On this day and every day, I’m proud to say I’m a veteran and I’m honored to be here with my brothers and sisters,” Mr. Herrmann said. “Let us never forget those veterans who have gone before us and always honor all veterans.”
Following Mr. Herrmann’s remarks, Air Force and Air National Guard veteran David Berube recited a prayer.
“Citizenship is not a right, it’s a responsibility and we’ve chosen to exercise our responsibility by serving in the uniformed services,” Mr. Berube said later, after the ceremony.
The crowd stood for a moment of silence to honor Allan (Buddy) deBettencourt, an Island veteran who passed away Tuesday.
JoAnn Murphy, former director of veterans affairs for the Vineyard, addressed the crowd, noting that this was the ninth year in a row the Veterans Administration had nationally recognized Oak Bluffs as a site for the observance of Veterans Day. Ms. Murphy said Oak Bluffs is the only town in Massachusetts with the designation from the Veterans Administration.
There was a moment of silence to honor Allan (Buddy) deBettencourt, an Island veteran who passed away Tuesday.
— Mark Alan Lovewell
Ms. Murphy said the Veterans Day celebration in Ocean Park dates back further than when she first got involved in 1982. She was happy with the turnout and glad the rain held off until the afternoon.
“I think we all needed this,” she said.
The ceremony concluded with Mary McDonald singing the Star Spangled Banner and Navy veteran Tom Norbury laying a wreath in memoriam. Then retired Tisbury fire chief John Schilling played Taps as a firing squad shot three times into the air. As Mr. Schilling concluded on the trumpet, Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee began Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.
As Chief McNamee finished he walked deeper into Ocean Park, the sound of his bagpipes slowly faded as the southeast winds carried the tune out to sea.