Friday, May 20, 2022

American Legion announces Windham Memorial Day celebration plans

More than 950 flags will be placed on the graves of Windham's
fallen veterans as part of the American Legion Post 148's 
celebration of Memorial Day this year. Other activities
include a parade, a gathering and observance at Windham 
High School, and a picnic at the Windham Veterans Center on
Memorial Day, May 30. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   
By Ed Pierce

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 invites the community to join its local veterans as they observe Windham’s Memorial Day celebration.  

Legion members say they missed seeing the public turn out on Memorial Day the last two years. The pandemic put a halt to the celebration in May 2020 and a torrential rain washed out last year’s event.

For more than 30 years, the Field-Allen Post has been planning the town’s Memorial Day events.

This year the Legion will be conducting its traditional events with a few new twists. They are asking the community to increase their involvement with floats or decorated vehicles to replace some of the more traditional entries that may not be available.

At one time in the past the Memorial Day parade was the largest parade in town with no competition from Summerfest and was extremely well attended. Over the past few years, it has become a shadow of its former self, said Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay. 

“The good news is that the Windham High School Marching Band is back this year along with the Windham Primary School chorus,” he said.  

The Legion’s preparation for the Memorial Day events starts in January each year with notifications, requests and planning of the respective events. In early May the flags that are to be hung on the utility poles around town are assembled and made ready.

New flags are ordered as needed, as well as ordering some 950-plus flags to be placed on the graves of our fallen veterans. Since 2005, the Legion has placed the 100 flags around town in preparation for the summer and Memorial Day.

Tanguay said that this year the flags will go up on the weekend of May 21. The program is a collaboration between the Town and the Legion. Windham purchases the flags on a triennial cycle and the post provides the hardware and manpower to place the flags. 

The flags fly until Labor Day, Tanguay said.

During the week before May 21, teams of veterans will fan out over the 22 smaller cemeteries in Windham for the veterans buried there, to replace/place the flags on their grave sites.

“On May 21, weather permitting, teams of veterans and community members will meet at 9 a.m. at Arlington Cemetery in North Windham adjacent to the fire station to place the final 350-plus flags on the veteran’s graves. 

Tanguay asked that if any families or groups are interested in helping, a great opportunity exists for the community to have a teaching moment and share in the flag program.  

“At Smith Cemetery, the town is fortunate to have a group of our young cadets from the Windham High School who will place over 200 flags at the cemeteries at the rotary,” he said.

Memorial Day on Monday May 30 will be the Legion’s busiest day with multiple events and several opportunities for the community to get involved.

Windham’s Memorial Day Parade begins at 9 a.m. from the Town Hall on School Road and proceeds onto Route 202 in the direction of Windham High School. 

The best vantage point for viewing the parade is from the area around the intersection of Windham Center Road and Route 202.  

“This year the Legion is asking for business and community support to make the parade truly memorable,” Tanguay said. “There is also a need for open vehicles, convertibles preferred, to provide rides for some of our less ambulatory, senior veterans. We will be using the Korean War-era M-37 Truck for our veterans as well and ask that if any vet would like to join us in the parade, please give me a call. We will find room for you.”

He said that the parade is not limited to a specific war era, any veteran who would like to march with the Legion or VFW component is welcome. All groups or individuals desiring to join the parade should meet and check in by 8:45 a.m. in front of the Windham Town Hall on School Road.

According to Tanguay, advanced registration would be helpful. When you arrive, you will receive a location in the parade. If you march, please do not throw items that may draw young individuals into the line of march or traffic.  

The parade is a short jaunt from School Road to the Windham High School lower parking area and terminates at the town’s Veterans Memorial Flagpole in front of Windham High School.

“At 10 a.m. the Memorial Day Ceremony commences,” Tanguay said. “Our guest speaker this year is U.S. Army Lt. Col. Wally Clark.”

The Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault. Ceremonial events include: WHS band performances, a wreath laying, a bell tolling for our lost Windham veterans this year and ceremonial burning of flags removed from veterans’ graves, followed by the traditional rifle salute and the playing of Taps.

Those events will be followed with an open house at noon at the Windham Veterans Center with a picnic style luncheon open to the public hosted by the Field-Allen Post.  There will be a brief wreath ceremony prior to the picnic in the Windham Veterans Center Memorial Garden. Following the ceremony, a picnic luncheon will be provided.

All the events are free and open to the public. Please note that some COVID-19 protocols may still be in place for these events based on guidelines for the end of May.

“The post sincerely hopes that you can find the time to join us for one or more of these events over the Memorial Day period and help us celebrate the 104th years of service by the Legion to veterans and the community,” Tanguay said.

To volunteer support or register an entry in the parade please contact Tanguay at 207-892-1306. <

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