By Adam Bass-Staff Writer
Veterans, elected officials, residents, families, and friends gathered to recognize those who gave their all in service to this country.
This was the first Memorial Day parade to occur in its pre-COVID design. In 2020 and 2021, the parade was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a small ceremony took its place. On May 28, the event made its grand return, and Veterans Agent Stephen Travers said the turnout was quite large.
“I was very happy with the turnout,” said Travers, “We were watching the weather very closely and we were very worried that we would get rained out, but we did not.”
Travers and his administrative assistant Nicole Pelletier were responsible for planning the parade and inviting participants.
The groups who marched were the Colonial Pipers, Boy Scout Troop 23, The North Attleborough High School (NAHS) band, the Veterans Service Organization, The North Attleborough Fire and Police Departments, the Metro-West Jeep Club, members from the Elks Lodge 1011, Veteran Service Organization Colors, and the Rehoboth Minutemen, who performed rifle salutes.
A memorial service was held at Barrows Veterans Memorial Park, with Travers as the Master of Ceremonies. The service consisted of a presentation of the colors, a 21-rifle salute by the Rehoboth Minutemen, a rendition of “Taps” played by Jordan Scanlon and the NAHS band, and a wreath-laying presented by veterans Cas Salemi and Lyle Pirnie.
Salemi, 99, served in World War II in the 251st artillery battalion in New Guinea. He said the parade and service not only honored those who have served in the military but those who are still active.
“Everybody should have a chance at military service,” Salemi said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing and it’s something I look forward to.”
Additionally, several elected officials gave speeches at the memorial. State Sen. Becca Rausch, (D-Needham) told the crowd Memorial Day made her think about her grandfather, who, after surviving a Nazi Concentration Camp, came to the United States and enlisted in the army.
“To me, Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of my grandfather’s silent suffering in so many ways,” Rausch said. “As a survivor, as a fighter, or how a genocide leaves no one unscathed.”
State Rep. Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough) dedicated his speech to Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, a U.S Marine from Lawrence who lost her life in a suicide bombing at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan in 2021. Scanlon noted Rosario’s selflessness, as she helped women and children evacuate the country—-risking her life for others.
“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision before them,” Scanlon said. “To her last words, to her last breath, Sgt. Rosario embodied what it means to be brave.”
While the memorial primarily honored those who served, there was a moment to recognize the recent tragedy in the country. U.S. Congressman Jake Auchincloss made a note to the crowd that the flag was raised half-mast. This was ordered by President Joe Biden in response to a school shooting that week in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults.
Auchincloss said this should be a period to remember these children and that the country should commit its time to protect those at home just as it does across the world.
“There was no higher calling, it was a senseless slaughter,” he said. “We have no day for those victims, because what would we even call it?”