2018-05-25 / In the Know

Community celebrates Memorial Day

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader

As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, I thought it appropriate to remind everyone why we celebrate this special holiday. I also wanted to highlight the various organizations that come together for Scarborough’s annual celebration each year.

Memorial Day was borne out of the American Civil War and was first observed in 1868 as Decoration Day out of a desire to honor the memory of military personnel who died in war by decorating their graves with flowers.

For several years separate competing Confederate and Union holiday traditions were celebrated on separate days. Eventually those celebrations were merged and celebrated on May 30 in honor of all who have died in military service.

In 1971 Congress passed the National Holiday Act which created the modern Monday (long weekend) holiday system and Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday in May regardless of the date.

Some question the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Memorial Day is when we remember the men and women who died while serving our country in the military, while Veterans Day celebrates the service and sacrifice of all U. S. military veterans.

Each spring the proud men and women of Scarborough’s Libby-Mitchell Post 76 of the American Legion organize our community’s Memorial Day activities to remember and honor their comrades who died in service to our country.

The celebration starts at 8 a.m. with a short but meaningful ceremony at the Black Point Cemetery. The American Legion color guard and fire department honor guard participate in these services where wreaths are placed on the monument, prayers are read, the Legion’s firing squad salutes the dead, and Taps is played by members of the Scarborough High School Band.

From there, the group moves to similar ceremonies at the Dunstan Monument, then the Dunstan and Scarborough memorial cemeteries.

At 9:30 a.m., the police department honor guard joins the group for a flag raising and Pledge of Allegiance at Memorial Park as the various groups gather in the high school parking lot in preparation for the annual Memorial Day parade.

The parade is traditionally led by the police honor guard followed by the Post 76 color guard and firing squad, the Legion of Honor, Scarborough High School marching band, fire department honor guard, veterans in antique cars, various scouting groups, service and civic groups, other invitees and is followed up with a procession of the town’s fire apparatus and public works vehicles.

Generations of Scarborough’s youth have grown up marching as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, member of the marching band, or a member of our public safety team – in some cases all four.

The parade leaves from the high school entrance on Gorham Road and proceeds through Oak Hill intersection, then south on Route 1 to the Maine Veterans Home. Citizens and visitors stake out a prime seating location along the route sometimes hours before the parade starts. Upon arrival at the Veterans Home, the groups assemble in front of the veterans and members of the public for a final ceremony, musical numbers from the band, as well as a keynote speaker.

Traditional events such as Scarborough’s Memorial Day parade are an important part of our community. Everyone loves a parade, but it is important to teach our youth the importance of community and the significance and true meaning of Memorial Day. It is to honor those veterans who gave their life in defense of our county. Please consider joining in this year’s celebration on Monday, May 28th and thank you to the members of Libby-Mitchell Post 76 and all those groups and individuals who help us celebrate this very special holiday.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

Return to top