Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 29, 2014
Skies brighten for Castine Memorial Day observance
The Rev. Tim Hall leads a prayer in honor of Memorial Day at the Castine Cemetery in Castine, Maine on May 26, 2014.
by Ruby Nash
Despite a morning plagued by heavy rains, the annual Castine Memorial Day observance took place under fair weather and with a good turnout on Monday, May 26.
“I prayed to God to come through for our veterans, and He did,” said moderator Captain James Shanley, United States Navy, Retired.
Parade attendees turned out in rain jackets and waterproof boots, bearing umbrellas, but by the start of the parade the rain had cleared. By the end, the sun was shining bright.
The ceremony started at the Castine Cemetery, at the base of the flagpole designated to commemorate deceased veterans. There the Rev. Tim Hall of Trinitarian Congregational Parish of Castine spoke of servicemen and women, and led a prayer to begin the parade. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America laid a wreath and carnations dedicated to service members killed in action. Major Lonnie Christian Jr., United States Marine Corps and Maine Maritime Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Officer Instructor, spoke to honor the fallen.
“They were ordinary people, from towns just like Castine, and they responded to [the calls of war] in extraordinary ways,” he said. He also spoke of Lieutenant James Zimmerman of Houlton, a Marine who died on November 2, 2010 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Major Christian called the Castine community to action, suggesting that even reading a book or watching a film on military history, or becoming engaged in community action would honor the memories of Zimmerman and other soldiers, and would give them dignity.
From the cemetery, the parade and attendees alike moved on to the common, where a second wreath was laid at the base of the town monument dedicated “In Memory of Soldiers and Sailors from Castine.” Words were offered by the Rev. Rick Armstrong of Trinity Episcopal Church in Castine, seventh Grader Elijah Breault read the Gettysburg Address, and the American flag was raised from half to full mast while the Star Spangled Banner played.
Afterward, the parade moved on to its third and final location at the Castine waterfront. The Rev. Charles Stephens, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Castine, shared words of observance, and Michael Coughlin cast a third wreath upon the waters in memory of veterans lost at sea. The Castine town band played the Navy Hymn, followed by Taps performed by Hall. At the parade’s end, the national anthem was played while Tom Monberg raised the American flag at the waterfront.
Stephens cited the real impact felt by the Maine Maritime Academy and Castine communities. “It’s important to be mindful of the sacrifice maritime sailors make all the time, and at a time of war,” he said.
“[Memorial Day] is so important in this day and age,” Captain Shanley said at the end. “The military often takes a second seat [to other issues]. It’s important to acknowledge a time of war, and we are at war.”
Major Christian Jr., who had never participated in any Memorial Day events before, appreciated the opportunity to participate, give back, and recognize the sacrifices of soldiers who had gone before him. “It’s important for the next generation,” he said. “These ceremonies make [military service] real to them. There are conflicts still going on today, in Afghanistan and around the world. We have people in harm’s way.”