AUTUMN RIVER — Remembrance Day is Monday, May 30, a national holiday established to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Across the United States, it is marked by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family reunions, and participating in parades to remember the men and women who died while serving in the army.
The past two pandemic years have upended many traditional Memorial Day celebrations in the Greater Fall River and beyond, parades and in-person events in particular, with some towns and cities choosing to hold instead social distancing rolling parades. But it looks like events this year will return to some sense of normalcy, as communities come together once again.
Here’s a roundup of celebrations planned for Memorial Day weekend in the Greater Fall River:
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Fall River marks Memorial Day with a number of events Friday through Monday. All are open to the public and will take place rain or shine. From a flag raising to a wreath laying to a motorcade to a parade, here’s a look at what happens and when:
FRIDAY MAY 27:
The Town of Fall River will host a flag raising ceremony at 10 a.m. at the main entrance to Oak Grove Cemetery on Prospect Street.
The Fall River War Veterans Council, in conjunction with Rolling Thunder New England, will also be hosting the Vietnam Wall Wash at 4:30 p.m. in Bicentennial Park.
FRIDAY MAY 27 and SATURDAY MAY 28:
The Fall River Graves Officer and Volunteers will be place approximately 11,000 American flags on veterans’ graves throughout the city and will also place 30 memorial wreaths at veterans monuments throughout the city.
SATURDAY MAY 28:
The Fall River War Veterans Council in conjunction with Rolling Thunder New England will conduct a Candlelight ceremony at the Vietnam Wall at 8:30 p.m. at the Bicentennial Park. Prior to the ceremony, there will be an audio and video presentation beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing until the candles are lit.
SUNDAY MAY 29:
Richard Urban, Esq., and the Polish Kanji Association will host a ceremony at polish monument at 8 a.m. on Plymouth Avenue Green, opposite Holy Trinity Church. There will be a mass celebrated in the church at 9 a.m., and breakfast will be served after the mass in the Holy Trinity room.
At Griffin Park, located at Fourth, Fifth and Branch streets, a Memorial ceremony in honor of U.S. Army Sgt. James T. Griffin who was killed in action in Germany on June 11, 1943, during World War II will take place at 11 a.m. Attendees will meet at the Corky Row Club on Third and Branch streets immediately prior to the ceremony.
At Bicentennial Park, Italian American Veterans and Sons of Italy will lead a ceremony at the monument of Italian veterans just before the main ceremony at the Vietnam Wall.
The Fall River War Veterans Council, in conjunction with Rolling Thunder New England, will conduct a Vietnam Wall Wreath Laying Ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Prior to the ceremony, there will be a motorcade through Bicentennial Park by Rolling Thunder New England.
MONDAY, MEMORIAL DAY, MAY 30:
• The Town of Fall River will hold a memorial ceremony in honor of US Army Pvt. U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Michael E. Bouthot. Robert J. Barrett and U.S. Army Spc. Scott A. Andrews, who were killed in action in the Global War on Terror. This ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at Snake Hill in North Park on President Avenue.
• Richard Urban, Esq. will hold a memorial ceremony in honor of U.S. Army Corporal David L. Miller, a World War II prisoner of war and survivor of the 1942 Bataan Death March who died in a Japanese prison camp in 1943. The ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. at Miller Green located at the intersection of South Main Streets and Shoves.
• Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 207 will conduct its Noon Memorial Day Ceremony aboard the USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove.
• The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 207 and the Fall River War Veterans’ Council will hold a prayer service and military honors at 1:30 p.m. at the War Memorial Monument located in Upper Kennedy Park on Main Street South, across from St. Anne’s Church.
• The Town of Fall River and the Fall River War Veterans’ Council will present their annual Memorial Day parade. The parade will depart from Kennedy Park, then wind up South Main Street, east on Sullivan Drive to Third Street, before ending at the Government Center atrium, where the closing ceremonies will be held. Parade participants will gather at Kennedy Park at the corner of South Main Street and Bradford Avenue at 12:30 p.m. and the departure will be at 2:00 p.m.
Although no official ceremony or public event is planned in Freetown, the city will mark Memorial Day in another way.
Volunteers from Freetown VFW Post 6643 and local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be replacing flags at veterans’ graves across the city. Wreaths will also be replaced at Freetown Memorial Park and other memorial sites.
Freetown Post 6643 will participate in the Memorial Day Parade in New Bedford.
Swansea will pay tribute to fallen local heroes with a Memorial Day ceremony and parade.
The ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Green on Gardner’s Neck Road, where a traditional wreath laying and Color Guard ceremony will be followed by introductions. Participants are then invited to lunch at VFW Post #2045.
The event is sponsored by the American Legion Post #303, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2045 and the Swansea Department of Veterans Services.
In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at American Legion Post #303 on Ocean Grove Avenue.
On Monday, May 30, the city’s Memorial Day Parade will depart at 1 p.m. from St. Francis of Assisi Church, 530 Gardner’s Neck Road.
According to a press release from Kevin Serpa, Swansea’s Director of Veterans Services, “Veterans of all wars are invited to march in the parade and display the pursuit of patriotism across all generations.”
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Somerset Veterans Services Department will host a Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade Monday, May 30 from 10 a.m.
The parade route will begin on Luther Avenue, then continue north on County Street, east on Center Street, south on Riverside Avenue, west on Wood Street and south on County Street before end at VFW Hall.
For more information, call 508-646-2827.
Westport’s Memorial Day celebration kicks off with a wreath laying ceremony Saturday, May 28 at 9 a.m.
The program for the ceremony is as follows:
9:00 a.m. at American Legion Post – First stop is the historic American Legion Post at 489 Sanford Road, home to both American Legion James Morris Post 145 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 207.
9:15 a.m., Latessa Square – Our second stop is the memorial near the intersection of Tickle Road and Oak Avenue that is named for PFC Andre Latessa, US Marine Corps, who was killed in action in Vietnam on August 18, 1967, at 7 p.m. years.
9:30 a.m., Veterans of Foreign Wars Post – Third stop is the Westport VFW. This post is named after three members of the Ouellette family, Wilfred, Arthur and Raymond, who were killed in action during World War II.
10:00 a.m. Pont Fontaine — The fourth stop is at the Route 88 bridge, named after US Army SP4 Normand Fontaine, killed in action in Vietnam on May 8, 1968, at the age of 19. The ceremony will take place on the north side of the small building.
10:15 a.m., Westport Point – Last stop is at the port at the south end of Main Road. The significance of throwing a bouquet into the water at Westport Point is to honor and remember service members who have been lost at sea.
There will be a memorial poem reading, wreath laying/bouquet throwing, rifle salute by the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 207 Honor Guard and tap dancing.
Anyone wishing to participate must be in the American Legion parking lot by 9 a.m. or at their location of choice at least 10 minutes before the listed time.
A Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony will take place on Monday, May 30 from 9:30 a.m.
The parade will begin with a brief ceremony at the First World War Memorial at City Hall, 816 Main Road, then proceed south on Main Road to Beech Grove Cemetery, 947 Main Road. This will be followed by a ceremony at the flag pole in the veterans section.
Military, Veterans, Veterans Organizations, Gold Star Families, Scout Troops, School Bands, Westport Police and Fire Departments, Color Guards, Civic Organizations and Elected Officials are invited to participate in the parade. Those interested in participating must gather in the parking lot of the Town Hall no later than 9:00 am.
For more information on either event, contact Veterans Services Officer Carol Freitas at 508-636-1028 or [email protected].