Dartmouth holds somber, socially-distant Memorial Day ceremony

May 25, 2020

Wearing face masks and standing six feet apart, a handful of veterans and town officials gathered at the Elm Street Cemetery to celebrate Memorial Day amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the annual parade was cancelled due to the pandemic, the town instead held a short wreath-laying ceremony, with the plan to hold future events for veterans once the state deems it safe to do so.

The tribute, hosted by the Veteran’s Advisory Board, began with a prayer and some brief remarks from Veterans Advisory Board Chair Chris Pereira.

“Our honored dead defended and kept faith with the oath they took,” he said. “Our constitution and their devotion endures all things.”

This was followed by the reading of the names of Dartmouth’s fallen from World War I to the present day while a wreath was placed. 

To end the ceremony, outgoing Dartmouth Public School Music Director Bill Kingsland and a Dartmouth High School alumnus Paul Jasmin, played “Taps” as the flag was raised. 

Despite the small number of participants as compared to years past, Pereira said the town’s message to residents on Memorial Day remained the same.

“Everything that we do has been paid for by those who fought and died in service for our country,” he said after the ceremony. “The least we can do is set aside a day for them.”

Vietnam Veteran William T. King said he thought the ceremony was great, but couldn’t help feeling emotional when hearing the names of those with whom he served.

“A lot of those guys were good friends of mine,” he said. 

Earlier in the day, members of the VFW tossed a wreath into the harbor off the Padanaram bridge, with members of the police color guard in attendance.

“We do that rain or shine,” VFW Commander Joseph Toomey said. “Anything to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”