Shrewsbury holds Memorial Day parade, honors sacrifice of military personnel

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Shrewsbury holds Memorial Day parade, honors sacrifice of military personnel
Members of the Shrewsbury Fire Department stand in front of the Shrewsbury Public Library. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – Although hundreds of Shrewsbury residents gathered around the Town Common, it was almost completely silent.

The crowd, many wearing red-white-and-blue shirts and toting American flags, quietly observed as Ashley Gerstel performed the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony in front of the veterans memorial by the Shrewsbury Public Library. As the wreath was laid, two Shrewsbury High School (SHS) students played “Taps” to mark the occasion.

That poignant moment in the Town Center was just one of many ceremonies held in Shrewsbury on May 27, as the town marked Memorial Day with a parade, speeches, and other events meant to honor the sacrifices made by those killed in the line of duty. Despite fog and mist over the course of the morning, the Shrewsbury community showed up in droves for the event.

“For many, Memorial Day means the unofficial start of summer. For others, Memorial Day is a time to remember friends and family who have passed away. For all, it is about honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while performing their duties to the United States,” Select Board Chair John Samia said to open the ceremony.

Samia joined his Select Board colleagues and Rep. Hannah Kane (R – Shrewsbury) in front of the Soldiers’ Memorial at Town Hall. The group, led by Master of Ceremonies Maj. John Travers, delivered opening remarks to officially start the parade. The procession traveled from Town Hall to the Town Center, where other ceremonies were held.

Shrewsbury holds Memorial Day parade, honors sacrifice of military personnel
Two children wave at the crowd from the back of a parade vehicle. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“My earliest memories of Memorial Day are the many flags adorning our homes, our cemeteries, and our parades. From a young age, I always understood our flag to represent the very best our country has to offer. I understood that our flag stood as a visual reminder of all the faces I would never see, of all the patriots I would never meet – it stood for all who made their last stand defending freedom. Our flag, in all its glory, is an enduring symbol of… strength and resolve – that our long-lost are never long-forgotten,” Kane said at the event.

The parade included the Shrewsbury Police Department, Shrewsbury Fire Department, several local Scout troops, Victor R. Quaranta American Legion Post 397, Veterans Inc., and Oak Middle School’s band. Several members of SHS’s Speech and Debate team spoke at the event: Sabrina Welch delivered the Gettysburg Address and Nithin Praburam read General Logan’s Orders. The SHS Chamber Choir also participated in the event, singing the national anthem.

Shrewsbury holds Memorial Day parade, honors sacrifice of military personnel
Troop 114 marches up Boylston Street. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

As the community gathered at the Town Center, John Griffin delivered the Memorial Day address. Griffin, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who moved to Shrewsbury in 2013, has been to 26 countries, earned three master’s degrees, and recently completed his doctorate degree. The Bronze Star Award recipient shared the meaning behind Memorial Day with Shrewsbury.

“I think it’s important to know that today is not about those of us who served in uniform. Today is about those who died wearing the uniform… For me, that number is 21 – 21 American citizens that I knew personally who were killed in combat. My best friend, my good friends, colleagues, classmates, Marines, sailors, soldiers that I was friends with. It’s a brutal number, but it’s not uncommon. Despite all this, our feelings don’t begin to compare to what the families of the fallen are experiencing today. And, quite frankly, every day,” Griffin said.

The parade proceeded to Mountain View Cemetery after Griffin’s speech. The names of several veterans were read by Shrewsbury Scouts, Msgr. Michael Rose delivered a benediction, and another wreath-laying ceremony was held.

Shrewsbury holds Memorial Day parade, honors sacrifice of military personnel
Cub Scouts march in the Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

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