ARLINGTON — At least 300 people watched Arlington’s Memorial Day parade on Monday morning, the town’s largest public gathering since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year.
Local residents and visitors lined East Arlington Road, waving and cheering, as dozens of parade participants made their way from the Arlington Recreation Park to the park beside Fisher Elementary School.
The gray, foggy weather, with temperatures in the low 50s, provided a somber backdrop to the parade, which commemorated members of the military who died in the line of duty.
“For 245 years, America has sent her sons and daughters to defend liberty, because we value freedom enough to die for it,” said guest speaker Bill West. “The people that we honor today gave up the comfort of their families, the promised futures of the children they never had as well as their very own dreams.
We need a day in our hectic lives to reflect on their gift to us. Much too often, we take all of this for granted.”
Members of Arlington’s American Legion Post 69, which organizes the annual event, also remembered service members who went missing in action or were taken as prisoners of war.
The mournful strains of bagpipe music, followed by the playing of taps, punctuated the short ceremony.
Chrissy Lorette, a Woodford resident who watched the event with her husband, toddler son and uncle, said being able to mark the holiday again as a community felt “a lot better.”
Lorette said she used to participate in Arlington parades as a child growing up in the town and would come back to watch them even after moving away. She said having public celebrations canceled because of the pandemic was disappointing.
Her 2-year-old son, Wyatt, was apparently thrilled to see so many fire trucks at the parade. Seven fire engines represented fire departments in Arlington, East Dorset, Rupert and Manchester.
After the parade, Phil and June Sherwin headed to the local American Legion post for the organization’s benefit barbecue. The couple, who are both 85, said this was the largest gathering they’d attended since getting vaccinated this year.
“It’s great,” said June
Sherwin. It’s wonderful, to see your friends and people you know.” After living in various parts of the country, she said she and her husband retired in Arlington, where they grew up and met in first grade.