SHIRLEY — People came from as far as across the region to attend the town’s Memorial Day ceremonies.
Held May 25 and hosted by American Legion Post 183, Memorial Day events included wreath-layings and playing Taps at town cemeteries, a parade and speeches at the historic Town Common and at Whiteley Park in Shirley Village.
Those gathered at Whiteley Park on the warm, sunny afternoon came to support family members, remember lost loved ones and show respect and gratitude for the men and women who gave their lives defending the country.
Cheryl Rogers, of Acton, said she came with her husband, Thomas, an Acton police officer who marched in the parade. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He now belongs to American Legion Post 183.
In a way, she was there for her father, too, she said, although he was at home in Newton. Edward Cohan, 87, is an Air Force veteran who was shot down over Germany in World War II. He was a prisoner of war, Rogers said, but he seldom talks about it.
Matt Richards was there to see his 12-year-old son, a Shirley Boy Scout, march in the parade. He said his dad, grandfathers and other family members are veterans.
Barbara Perry came to see her husband, Bob, march in the parade. He was a Marine during the Korean War. They’ve lived in town for nine years. Born and brought up in Concord, Perry said she’s seen many patriotic parades, and Shirley’s is well done.
John and Maureen Dion, of Pepperell, were there with their son, Matthew, a high-school junior at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Still River. He’s been a bugler with the school’s marching band for three years and played Taps at the event. The band has been participating in Shirley’s Memorial Day ceremonies for 19 years.
Matthew, who also plays trumpet at the New England Conservatory of Music, has his sights set on attending the U.S. Naval Academy after he graduates next year, his father said, and his chances look promising. He was accepted into a seminar program at the academy this summer. Events like this deepen Matthew’s resolve, John said.
Lifelong resident Richard Hatch and two of his brothers, Robert and Roy, have their names inscribed on the park’s World War II memorial.
Richard was in the Navy. He was in boot camp when the atomic bomb was dropped, ending the war. Robert was a captain in the Air Force. Roy was in the Army.
“He was in the battle of the bulge,” said Hatch.
One of five brothers, he’s the last living, but the three who served all survived the war, he said.