The sounds of John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post March" filled Wrentham Center as the annual Memorial Day Parade and ceremony was held Monday morning. The procession followed its traditional route from Randall Rd., up South St. onto East St., and then ending in Center Cemetery for a remembrance ceremony to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service of the country. "For a town as small as Wrentham, we have a great turn out every year," said Ken Oles, Veterans' Services Officer for the town.
Veterans, men from Wrentham's police and fire departments, KP High School Marching Band, Boy and Girl Scouts, local elected officials, and members of Sheldonville Baptist Church participated in the parade. The parade route was lined with hundreds of spectators decked out in red, white, and blue. Some waved American flags and others tried to get a good picture of their loved one marching through the center of town.
At Center Cemetery, Oles served as the master of ceremonies, introducing the day's speakers and singers.
Pastor Doug Pettit of Sheldonville Baptist Church gave the opening prayer remembering those from our country who made the ultimate sacrifice. "As we gather on this day, we do so out of memory, not out of habit," Pastor Pettit said. "We remember those from our community who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. It is the sacrifice they made, along with the sacrifice of your Son, that enables us to stand in this public forum and express our faith in their memory."
Pettit added, "May we honor their sacrifice by ensuring that the flame of freedom is not extinguished in our generation."
The assembled then gave the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner was sung by Victoria McComb.
All five members of Wrentham Board of Selectmen were at the ceremony, as well State Representative Shawn Dooley. Chairman of the board, Charles Kennedy spoke saying, "We owe so much to these men and women taken from their families too soon."
Oles, then took the podium to recognize Veterans in the community. There were four from Pond Meadow; Robert Christian, an Army from the Vietnam Era; Edward Godin, WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps who served in the Admiralty Islands; Arthur McNamara, who served in the Coast Guard aboard the Destroyer Escort USS Richie during World War II; and Vincent Squitieri who served in the Army during the Korean War. Oles also recognized WWII U.S Army Veteran Elmer Zeller who was a prisoner of war for 40 months in a Japanese prison camp; Richard Bergman, U.S. Army, World War II Pacific Theater; and Henry Colletto, U.S. Army, World War II Pacific Theater.
Oles mentioned how it has become customary for people to thank veterans for their service, but he suggested they should also be thanked "for our freedoms."
Two cub scouts, along with Oles, and Bryan Moore, Junior Vice Commander at American Legion Post 225, placed a wreath. Kate Pettit sang, America the Beautiful.
Oles read the names of all military servicemen from Wrentham who died in combat. As each name was read, a voice answered, “Absent.” The solemn tradition was followed by a unique and somber performance of "Taps" on trombone and Wrentham American Legion Post 225's rifle squad providing the gun salute.
Original Congregational Church Paster Ken Landen gave the closing blessing before the parade reformed and marched to the War Monuments on the town Common for additional remembrances.
Visit Memorial Day 2015 to see more images from the day.