By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING – All gave some and some gave all. And on Monday morning, May 29, the town of North Reading will pay tribute to all those who gave the ultimate price in defense of their country, in all of its wars and conflicts.
The North Reading Company of Minit and Militia organizes the day’s events – which begin solemnly with early morning visits starting at 7 a.m. at the town’s three cemeteries and the IRP Blue Star Memorial preceding the town’s festive and patriotic parade stepping off from the common at 10 a.m. – and ends with ceremonies at the top of the Town Common near the flag and war memorials to include speeches and music provided by the NRHS Marching Band.
This year’s honorary parade marshals chosen by the Minit and Militia, are Geoff and Patty Bemiss and Roy and Chris Walters, two couples who have given much to the town in numerous civic, school and church activities since the 1960s, including the Minit and Militia (see the feature published on them in last week’s Transcript).
The festivities begin with reading of the honor roll, prayer, firing of volleys by the Minit and Militia, and Taps played by NRHS trumpeters at each of the following locations: Riverside Cemetery, Elm Street, at 7 a.m.; Harmony Vale Cemetery, Chestnut Street, at 7:45 a.m.; Ipswich River Park Blue Star Memorial at 8:30 a.m. and Park Street Cemetery at 8:45 a.m. The public is invited to attend any or all of these tributes.
Decorated bicycle contest
Kids, get out your Red, White and Blue flags and whirligigs to display your patriotism in the town’s annual decorated bicycle contest prior to the start of the parade! Meet at the top of the Town Common near the Senior Center (Third Meeting House) at 9 a.m. Ribbons will be awarded to the top entrants and all participants will be invited to ride their bicycles in the parade.
Line up at 9:30 a.m.
The parade will step off from the Town Common on the Bow Street side at 10 a.m. All participants are asked to arrive to organize your groups, floats, antique cars and of course veterans by 9:30 a.m. The parade will proceed toward the Flint Memorial Library, turn left onto Park Street, turn right onto Park Street East at Nan’s Cafe; turn right onto Mt. Vernon Street, turn right onto Haverhill Street, turn right onto Park Street and pass the Police/Fire Station and the proceed left in front of the reviewing stand at the Flint Memorial Library and disperse at the top of the Town Common.
Veterans of all wars are invited to march, with or without their uniforms, including Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) veterans, both discharged and active. Uniforms are not required, but always welcomed, or veterans can wear their hats, vests, etc., Sue Magner, Veterans’ Director, said.
Those unable to march will be accommodated in a vintage vehicle or float; contact the Veterans Services Office at 978-357-5211 or [email protected] for more information.
Magner was excited to add that a Purple Heart Float will be included in this year’s parade and she has arranged to have National Guard vehicles from the 151st Regional Support Group HHC in the parade.
Ceremony by flagpole and memorials
Immediately after the parade, the ceremony will begin near the town’s flagpole and war memorials at the top of the Town Common featuring Select Board members, clergy, the award-winning North Reading High School Marching Hornets under the direction of Ben Owens and the Minit and Militia, including a volley and Taps. Both the Governor’s Proclamation and the Purple Heart Proclamation will be read during the ceremony.
The bandstand on the common will be lit up in purple lights in recognition of the town’s designation as a Purple Heart Community.
Refreshments will be served in the Senior Center on the first floor of the Third Meeting House on the Common at the conclusion of all activities to all parade participants.
Putnam House open May 29
The Rev. Daniel Putnam House, located at 27 Bow Street, across from the Town Common, will also be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Memorial Day. On view will be a display of the biographies, photographs and military uniforms and awards presented to local men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, arranged by the North Reading Historical and Antiquarian Society.