On Monday, Westport celebrates Memorial Day with a parade.
It’s a decades-long town tradition — one of those events that makes this a true community. Veterans, first responders, school bands, civic organizations — they’re all there, marching proudly in honor of the men and women who gave their lives so that we could, well, have a parade.
I don’t know who Robert Mull is. But a couple of years ago, he uploaded a video of Westport’s 1961 Memorial Day parade to YouTube.
I also don’t know how Fred Cantor found it. But the loyal “06880” reader did, and forwarded it along.
It’s a great way to kick off this holiday weekend. The video reminds us of the importance of this timeless tradition. Much remains as it is today — though there is also a float commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. A similar float today would remember the recent end of World War I.
One thing has definitely changed. Westport is bigger than it was 61 years ago — but crowds at our parade are smaller.
So: If you’re not marching on Monday, head to Riverside Avenue, the Post Road or Myrtle Avenue. Then stay for the short but moving ceremony on Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.
Let’s show those 1961 folks what we’ve got!
Meanwhile, Susan Eastman — widow of 1960 Staples High School graduate, and daughter-in-law of noted children’s book author/illustrator P D Eastman — sent these photos from the 1958 Memorial Day parade.
The 2 shots below show the Bedford Junior High School marching band and a group of Brownies, rounding the still-familiar Post Road corner from Riverside Avenue:
And here is the famed E.O. Nigel Cholmeley-Jones. For years, he was a fixture in our Memorial Day parade. A lieutenant in World War I, as a child he had been photographed with Walt Whitman.
I salute all our servicemen and women. Come show your thanks at the parade in their honor
It was fun to watch and a privilege (& right of passage) to participate as a Cub Scout, a Bedford Junior & Staples band member (I squeezed into one of those classic uniforms 3 years later), and then, because my Dad was likely marching with the Knights of Columbus, as a driver of the Red Cross station wagon with my very young daughter waving a small American flag out the rear window at the reviewing stand with Rodney Dangerfield in attendance. Oh, I remember Nigel — you can see his firm tread far right at 16-18 seconds into the video. I would note the older woman on the War Dead Memorial float (with coffin!) might very well have been a local Gold Star Mother. Just 8 years from Korean War end and 16 from end of WW2. Emotions were — real. Likely a lot of 8MM film out there and many snapshots, too.
Robert “Bob” Mull, friend and classmate, Staples ’73. Fair to say he didn’t make the video himself.
What wonderful memories the Memorial Day Parade always brings up. Thank you to all the men and women who have and are serving our country.
The 1958 Girl Scouts. In front are the brownies. The youngest girl scouts at that time. I would have been somewhere in the back in my Mariner Scout Uniform My last year to march. June was graduation from Staples that year.
Thanks for the memories…Those were the days, we thought they would never end but time passes……
Love going to the Parade each year. Love all the marchers and the music. And seeing my fellow Americans.