Westborough conducts Memorial Day observances

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Westborough conducts Memorial Day observances
Bonnie Rae Ellis, a retired Naval lieutenant, speaks during Westborough’s annual Memorial Day observances on Monday, May 27. She was the Grand Marshal. Photo by Maureen Sullivan

WESTBOROUGH – Bonnie Rae Ellis went to UMass-Amherst to become a teacher. She decided to become a nurse instead.

Her career included joining the Navy Nurse Corps, where she earned the rank of lieutenant. She served at the St. Albans Naval hospital on Long Island, recalled how she helped with “broken bodies and injured souls.”

In the 1970s, Ellis was part of “Operation Baby Lift,” during which up to 30,000 orphans were evacuated from Vietnam and brought to the United States and other countries.

On Monday, May 27, Ellis served as the Grand Marshal of the town’s annual Memorial Day observances. In addition to delivering the keynote speech, she helped placed wreaths at several cemeteries in town.

While growing up in Westborough, Ellis liked to read poetry. During her keynote speech, she recited part of “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae – “We are the Dead. Short days ago/We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,/Loved and were loved, and now we lie,/In Flanders fields.”

Ellis asked the audience to honor those in the military who are doctors, corpsmen, nurses and medics – “They are the heroes of our heroes,” she said.

Other speakers reminded the audience of the sacrifices made to preserve this nation’s democracy.

“Our honored dead understood our democracy was not a given,” said Select Board member Patrick Welch.

“We must remain vigilant,” said state Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury).

As part of the annual observances, veterans, town officials and others visited St. Luke’s, Pine Grove and Midland cemeteries before the main ceremony at the Forbes Municipal Building.

The parade included bands from Westborough High School and Gibbons Middle School; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; and Little League players.

Older veterans were transported by bus; as Grand Marshal, Ellis was driven in a vintage Jeep.

Afterwards, veterans were invited to a lunch at the Knights of Columbus.

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