Marblehead veterans lay wreaths on Memorial Day

Residents came together Monday morning in anticipation of the annual Memorial Day Parade. The procession formed at the Old Town House and made its way through the streets. It consisted of town officials, Troop 11 Scouts, the High School Marching Band, the Northeast Italian Band, and numerous local veterans that rode along in cars from the early 20th century and a Salem trolley as they waved to the cheering crowd. 

Once they settled in at Memorial Park, different veterans took the podium to put this day of remembrance into perspective. Select Board Chair and former Marine Moses Grader talked about how past sacrifice has given the people of the United States the freedoms they have today.

“Our gathering here today is in testimony to the supreme obligation to those who have given most to make and preserve the nation,” read Grader. “The states can only be maintained under the Constitution established by Washington, under the peace established by Lincoln, and under the eternal gratitude to those Americans who took an oath to the Constitution, for which they took the last full measure of their devotion.”

The keynote speaker was retired Adm. Clarke Orzalli, a decorated Navy veteran who lived in different locations throughout New England growing up as the son of a Navy veteran himself. He explained the origins of Memorial Day practices that date back even further than the Civil War, and how they have evolved in the more than 200 years since. He also explained why he believes the holiday is so important, especially for the younger generation.

“My concern today is that very few of us are affected by the loss of loved ones in combat,” said Orzalli. “For Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day.”

After Congressman and Marine veteran Seth Moulton read all the names of Marblehead veterans who gave their life in the line of duty, the parade moved to Waterside Cemetery for the second half of the ceremony.

The cemetery presentations were led by Veterans’ Agent Dave Rodgers. They were highlighted by the laying of the wreaths, where a military servicemen would present a wreath that represented the lives lost in each major war the country has taken part in. Marine Staff Sgt. Francisco Urena planted the final wreath representing the Cold War, and was then given the microphone to recall some of his fallen comrades.

“On this week especially, I think of two great Marines who did not make it home from my war in Iraq,” said Urena. “As I close my eyes on these two Marines, they are always 20 and 22, they’ll never grow old.”

Afterward, multigenerational Marblehead resident Peter Martin reflected on his hometown’s Memorial Day festivities and why he attends every year.

“I have a few people in the family who have served over the years,” said Martin. “I appreciate all the things the veterans do.”