LAKES REGION – Lakes Region residents have a bevy of parades and services they can attend in just about every town around Sebago Lake to commemorate the Memorial Day holiday.
In Windham, the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 has several events lined up during the holiday weekend.
Starting Saturday, May 26, veterans will be stationed at the front entrance of the Windham Walmart with a 5-ton Maine Air National Guard truck collecting food for the Windham Food Pantry. The stuff-the-truck event takes place from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
And then, on Monday, May 28, the Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion are once again jointly holding a parade along Route 202 from the Windham Town Hall to the Windham High School, stepping off at 9:15 a.m.
According to the post’s past commander, Don McCormack, the parade begins lining up at 8:30 a.m., and all organizations wishing to take part are invited, even as late as Monday morning. Local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Windham High School marching band and third- and fifth-grade choruses are slated to march.
Leading the parade will be marching veterans, some in their military uniforms. Those who can’t walk will ride in vehicles. Also participating are local fire, rescue and police vehicles.
Following the parade, a flag-burning ceremony takes place at the Windham High School at 10 a.m. The names of local veterans who died during the last year will be read, and the flags that flew over their graves will be ceremonially burned.
“We’ll read off their names as we burn the flags we took off graves last weekend. We started that last year and it was a moving ceremony, so we thought we’d do that again,” McCormack said.
After the ceremony, all are invited to the Windham Veterans Center in North Windham for a cookout. The social event starts at noon and offers hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream free of charge.
McCormack is hoping the festivities bring out a large segment of the public and veterans, especially the younger generation of veterans.
“Memorial Day is hugely important, and we’re really encouraging some of the newer veterans to come out and join us. It’s so important for them to establish that connection with some of the older veterans, guys and gals who have been through it before, kind of understand what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced, to come and just talk, which is sometimes important,” McCormack said.
Memorial Day events in Gray start at 11 a.m. with a parade in Gray Center. Jason White, commander of Gray’s American Legion Post 86, has recently returned from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan and is in charge of this year’s parade.
White said the parade starts at Russell School on Route 26, stops at the Monument in Gray Center for a 15-gun salute by the 15th Alabama Regiment and continues on to Newbegin Gym, where the Gray-New Gloucester high school and middle school bands will perform, and a memorial service will take place. The parade will continue to the American Legion Hall on Route 100 where parade participants will enjoy lunch.
Gray Fire-Rescue apparatus, Maine Air National Guard vehicles and local organizations are among those expected to participate, White said.
White, 43, took over as commander of the post three years ago, and as a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, he said his goal is to get the community and veterans involved together for Memorial Day.
“I pushed for more community involvement with the legion, so anything I can do to help that happen is worth it,” said White, a member of South Portland-based Maine Air National Guard 243rd Engineering and Installation Squadron.
Standish’s American Legion Memorial Post 128 is holding a Memorial Day service starting at 10 a.m. in front of the Standish Town Hall.
According to Bruce Roubo, the post’s sergeant at arms, radio personality Bud Sawyer will provide opening remarks, followed by Standish Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts presentation of the American flag.
Post Commander Lou Stack will speak, and prayer will be offered by Post Chaplain Alan Dube. State Reps. Mike Shaw and Mike McClellan will speak as well as Standish town officials.
The Rev. Gary Wilkins of Standish Baptist Church, will give a Memorial Day message followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at a war memorial in front of the town hall performed. The wreath will be laid by representatives of the Standish Historical Society and Post 128’s Women’s Auxiliary.
After Taps is played and a medley of service songs, closing comments will be made by Post Adjutant Will Hamilton, along with additional comments by Todd Delaney of Standish Kiwanis offering a tribute to the flag.
“One thing that we do that I don’t know if every town does, is toward the end of the ceremony, we take a couple moments to recognize our public safety and our police people,” Hamilton said.
The American Legion Post 155, based in Naples but serving Naples, Casco and Raymond veterans, has its annual Memorial Day events on tap, as well.
According to newly elected Post Commander Curtis Merrill, who served in the Army as a telephone switchboard repairman during the Vietnam War era, the service begins at the Naples Village Green at 10 a.m. with guest speaker stateRep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, offering opening remarks followed by a memorial service on the village green.
A parade steps off from the village green and heads to the town dock on Long Lake to place a wreath in the water. A firing squad will shoot three volleys over the lake while Taps is played.
After refreshments back on the village green, the American Legion members will then reconvene at 11:30 a.m. on the Casco Village Green for a memorial service in which Kelley Simpson, a past Democratic state representative and House candidate for Casco and Naples this November, will speak.