The sun shone, a bit reluctantly at first but finally with full brightness, on the Shelter Island Memorial Day parade. The High School Band stepped off briskly on Route 114 from the Center Fire House at 10 a.m. playing patriotic marches. Fire department members in their dress uniforms marched accompanied by antique and modern fire service vehicles, along with the Emergency Services team and many veterans of all ages. There were also troops of scouts marching, cheered on by a good crowd lining the sidewalks and the median of the Center. The parade made a loop down Route 114 around the Center and through Thomas Street, ending at the traffic circle in in front of American Legion Mitchell Post 281.
There, Kaela and Ariana Loriz, Libby Liszanckie and MeMe Lawrence sang the National Anthem, their soft, lovely voices coming through the mild morning more as a hymn than a rousing tune. Hans Schimd, commander of the legion, spoke briefly, as did Father Peter DeSanctis of Our Lady Of the Isle Church, who named the 18 Shelter Island men who were killed in action from the Civil War to Afghanistan. A seven-man honor guard of veterans shot rifles in the air as a salute to the fallen, and then it was time for a hot dog and hamburger barbecue provided by the Lions Club with ice cream and old-fashioned field games to follow.
Cathy Rasmussen, 30, said as the parade passed, “It is very touching to remember who we lost. This day is very close to me since I have a husband who serves.” Her children, Danielle, 4, and Joseph, 6, said that “Seeing the firemen,” was their favorite part of the parade. An army vet, William Seeberg, who served three years in the 82nd Airborne said, “This is the biggest parade of the year. It’s important to remember today and what it means. Veterans Day and Memorial Day have taken on a new life. People respect service members more now than ever. I remember in the 60’s and 70’s when parades like this one had few members and supporters.”
Sharon Egan, keeping one eye on the parade and the other on her children, Maeve, 7, and Finn, 5, said, “I don’t remember going to Memorial Day parades as a kid so it is important to me to bring my kids out. It’s a special thing to remember today and that freedom is not free.” Maeve and Finn agreed that their favorite parts of the parade were watching the band and the fire trucks.
Maurice Tuttle has served 57 years on the honor detail firing the salute. “It is important to remember the troops of the past and the service they’ve given,” Mr. Tuttle said. Sam Clark, 22, who carried Old Glory in the honor guard, is home on leave from a tour in Afghanistan, stopped to say, “Today is a day to honor the fallen and those who served before me.”