Dover veterans introduced themselves and where they served during the presentation.
By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Each year on the last Monday of May, most towns hold a Memorial Day celebration to honor veterans who have served to protect the United States of America. There are barbecues, a plethora of cemetery visits, and gun salutes to honor all of those brave men and women who gave up their time and in some cases, lives, to protect this country. But not all celebrate it on Monday; others stick to the traditional May 30 date, which was in place from 1868 to 1970. On Thursday, May 30, the people of Dover attended the town’s Memorial Day celebration.
Audience members sat in seats outside of Town Hall, ready to begin the celebration on what had been expected to be a rainy day. Onlookers stood and watched members of local Boy Scout troops lead the posting of the colors, taking the flags to the front of the stage at Town Hall. Veterans saluted the flags as they were moved, while others held a hand over their heart.
Following the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Reverend Dr. C. Maxwell Olmstead of the Dover Church was welcomed to the stage, where he gave a moving speech suggesting that despite all the differences we have, Americans have absolutely one thing in common. “There’s one thing we can all agree on,” said Olmstead. “We all love our country.”
He added that veterans sign up to serve not because they want to go into battle. “They sign-up because their home needs them.” Olmstead’s speech had a few audience members in tears.
The Dover-Sherborn High School band was ready to perform “A Patriotic Salute,” arranged by Ralph Ford, following Olmstead’s speech. The arrangement combines well-known patriotic tunes like “America the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to make a moving tribute to the military personnel of the United States.
Jay Sullivan then welcomed all of the veterans in attendance to come to the front of the stage and take a moment to say their name and where they served. A majority served in Vietnam, while a few had served in the Gulf War and were currently enlisted. Perhaps the most moving moment was when Sullivan talked about the tie he was wearing. “People ask me all the time if this is my only tie,” he said, with laughs from the audience. “No, I have two. This one is to honor Vietnam veterans.”
Sullivan then began to talk about how the town has a hero amongst them. Glenn Blackburn served in Vietnam and received a Silver Star for his service. As a tribute to him, Sullivan presented Blackburn with an identical tie.
Following the ceremonies at Town Hall, the audience prepared for the formation of the parade to go from Town Hall to the Hillside Cemetery, led by George B. Preston Post #209 Color Guard. Following the Color Guard was Grand Marshal Robert Cocks of the U.S. Navy and Dover Veterans. Others in the procession included religious leaders of Dover, the high school band, the Memorial Day committee, Dover police, firefighters, and EMTs, Scouts, and the general public.
Once at the cemetery, parade participants walked to the grave of George Preston and laid a wreath to honor the fallen veteran. The parade then regrouped to hear the words of Reverend Sean Leonard of St. Dustan’s Church, then proceeded to hear the reading of the War Dead - Dover military members who had died while serving their country. A gun salute was given and taps were played in tribute in the otherwise silent cemetery.
Following the cemetery tribute, the parade marched back to Town Hall, where the flags were raised by the color guard. Now dusk, Memorial Day was over for the town of Dover. After the conclusion of ceremonies, participants were welcomed to enjoy a barbecue hosted at the Dover Legion. With families laughing and strangers meeting each other for the first time, the idea of Memorial Day was fully achieved - Dover’s service men and women were honored, and the community was free to celebrate its common love of country.