TOWNSEND — Every year on Memorial Day, residents line a section of Route 119 in West Townsend. They are present to show their respect and give thanks to the men and women who lost their lives in the service of their country.
The threat of rain this year didn’t put a damper on marchers or their supporters, who stood with hats over hearts, with cameras and cellphones and their families to watch the parade.
Marchers gathered in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post about a half-hour before the first ceremony. Boy Scout Troops 10 and 81 and Cub Scout Pack 11 joined Girl Scouts Troops 30748 and 31100.
After music, a prayer and the guns were fired to honor fallen service members, the parade got under way.
Veterans, the Fire Department, American Legion, the VFW, and the Ladies Auxiliary took places of honor.
Townsend Minutemen re-enactors paid tribute, carrying long guns and a period flag. Holly’s Bunch added baton twirling.
No parade is complete without a marching band and the Townsend Military Band did itself proud. Patriotic songs and the mournful sounds of taps marked the ceremonies at the VFW, the bridge on Mason Road and at Riverside Cemetery.
Drummers kept strict time guiding the participants from one spot to another.
Antique vehicles played a part in the procession. L.B. Smith was there in his Model T. The Knights of Columbus from St. John the Evangelist rode in a trailer towed behind John Hussey’s 1957 Model 800 Ford tractor.
The knights on the float threw wrapped candy to the children and adults lining Route 119. Another member walked, ensuring that everyone who wanted a piece received one.
Dander Murray and his grandmother paraded from the VFW to the bridge. His ride, a tricycle, was decked out with bunting. This is the fourth time her grandson has been at the parade, said Gwen Sheldon of Townsend.
The second ceremony, placing flowers on the water from a boat to honor those killed at sea, occurs on the Mason Road bridge.
“This is so emotional,” said Cheryl Simoneau after the water ceremony. The Townsend resident attended the West Townsend parade for the first time last year and again this year. In previous years, she honored veterans at the parade held later in the day in the center of town.
At the Riverside Cemetery, steps from the bridge, Ben and Chloe Minor, a Boy and Girl Scout, assisted Bob Rheault from the American Legion with the wreath ceremony.
The West Townsend parade was one of many scheduled events on Sunday. The day began with a service at the Townsend Congregational Church.
Later in the afternoon, ceremonies at sites near the center of town and another parade were to be followed with a band concert on the common.
Throughout the day, participants and viewers alike kept the solemn nature of the day in mind as expressed by the words of the Rev. Kevin Patterson from the West Townsend Baptist Church.
“We have come to give thanks for those who willingly gave their youth, their hopes and their futures to lay down their lives for others,” he said. “May their depth of commitment lead us to stand firm in every just cause, that those we cherish may enjoy the liberty which is our heritage.”