HARVARD — It wasn’t your typical Memorial Day parade where people simply line the streets to watch those marching walk by — the onlookers followed the parade to witness the laying of the wreathes.
During the March 26 parade wreathes were placed at Center Cemetery, the Civil War Monument, and the Vietnam, Korean and World War II memorials and World War I flag pole on the Common.
The Town Band played patriotic music as the parade made its way to the Common for the eloquent words of Parade Marshal Maj. Steve Cronin and guest speaker Col. Dwayne Barber.
“Today we honor the memory of those who gave their lives in the service of our country,” said Cronin. “And to those who have dropped their burdens by the wayside of life and are gone to their eternal rest.”
Cronin encouraged those in attendance to allow the ceremonies to deepen their reverence for the dead.
“Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag,” he said. “Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.”
After a brief prayer by Chaplain Peter Johnston, Cronin introduced Barber, a retired Army veteran.
“Memorial Day, formally know as Decoration Day, began shortly after the Civil War,” said Barber. “Mainly, southern folks would attend to the graves of fallen comrades that passed on during the Civil War.”
It was May 5, 1868, when Gen. John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued the general order, said Barber.
“It was 140 years ago,” he said. “The 30th day of May in 1868 was designated for the purpose of laying flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion.
“Today is our national day of remembering,” he said. “Thank you for taking the time to honor the memory of our departed comrades.”
The parade reassembled and continued to Still River Road for another wreath-laying at the memorial there.
The final stop of the parade was at Bellevue Cemetery where not only was a wreath laid, but James Wallace played Taps with a bugle. He was echoed by students from the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Still River.