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.
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)
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)