Memorial Day 2020

Around this time every year, I post photos from that day’s Memorial Day parade.

The collection shows so much of what makes Westport a community: a parade filled with kids and parents, cops and soldiers and fife-and-drummers; a meaningful ceremony on aptly named Veteran’s Green; flags, fun and a history-themed Y’s Men float that always wins the grand prize.

This year’s Memorial Day is different. A global pandemic — the worst since influenza ravaged the planet during World War I — has forced us apart. There will be no Little Leaguers (or Little League) today. There are no big parties. There’s no a grand marshal, no reflective speech, no moving, mournful “Taps.”

Next year we’ll again come together to honor our war heroes, and celebrate our history. In the meantime, let’s reflect on the meaning of today.

And look back on Memorial Days in Westport, from the past.

(Photo/Carminei Picarello)

The 2019 Bedford and Coleytown Middle School bands, (Photo/Sarah Tamm)

The reviewing stand. Last year’s grand marshal Nick Zeoli is at far right. (Photo/Dan Woog)

A Myrtle Avenue home honors the holiday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Ed Vebell was one of Westport’s honored — and few remaining — World War II veterans. He served as the 2016 grand marshal.

Westport’s state champion 10-and-under softball team, and the 12-and-under runners-up, in 2016.

The dougbhoy statue in Veterans Green honors World War I service members. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

RTM member Andrew Colabella

Longtime parade organizer Bill Vornkahl talks with a veteran. (Photo/Kat Soren)

Alex Merton is captivated by a fife and drum corps. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

A Staples High School bugler plays “Taps.”

Troop 39 Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance. In 2016, rain forced the ceremony indoors, at Town Hall.

.2015. (Photo/John Hartwell)

(Photo/Pam Romano-Gorman)

Staples High School band, 1971,

1st Selectman Herb Baldwin (far right) during a Memorial Day parade, in the late 1960s or early ’70s. Also in front, from left: John Davis Lodge, a Westporter, former governor of Connecticut and ambassador to Spain Argentina and Switzerland; U.S. Congressman Stewart McKinney.

A scene from 1962. The young man in front with the camera is future 1st Selectman (and CBS news correspondent, and WestportNow publisher) Gordon Joseloff. He ws covering the event for the Westport Town Crier newspaper.

Girl Scouts, 1955.

Leonard H. Gault driving fire truck in a 1920s parade, by Willowbrook Cemetery.

Bonus feature: One of the best Veteran’s Day speeches ever was Howard Munce’s. In 2008, the grand marshal said:

(Hat tip: Ellen Naftalin)

5 responses to “Memorial Day 2020

  1. Caryl Beatus


  2. Amy Schneider

    Thank you to all the men and women who have served, and thank you Dan for posting these memories.

  3. Fred Cantor

    Thanks for including one of my photos in your trip down memory lane. Your annual Memorial Day photo essay—with contributed pictures from local residents as part of the mix—is one of my favorite “06880” traditions because it captures the best of the small-town character of Westport in a variety of ways (as exemplified by the above photos). Hopefully we will be able to experience that once again next year.

  4. Ellen Naftalin

    The first four words of Howard Munce’s Grand Marshall speech were “one of the best…” I was fussing with my new camera and missed those first 4 words. Thanks Dan for including this in your blog and thanks Miggs Burroughs for putting my little film up on your You Tube page that year. Howard was so amazed and excited to hear from relatives who saw the speech on You Tube. All this digital sharing was rather new to me and completely magical for Howard.

  5. Stephen Axthelm

    Hi Dan, thanks for including the pic of the our softball girls. What a glorious season that was. They would have been the Staples Varsity now. I so regret that they don’t get to compete for the FCIAC or State titles this year.

    Steve Ax