The threatened rain postponed itself and the temperature was comfortably cool, so conditions during Suffield’s Memorial Day observance on May 28 were fine for the customary short parade up Mountain Road and traditional ceremony on Veteran’s Park. The crowd was quite large.
Officer of the Day William Moryto, Lt. Col. USMC, Ret., opened with a special dedication to the late Justin Donnelly, retired Marine officer and an important part of Town government in recent years. After young Cayden O’Brien of Boy Scout Troop 260 led the Pledge of Allegiance, First Selectman Melissa Mack, in her program opener, added her grateful reference to Donnelly’s service to the town. Rev. Scott Seabury’s opening prayer followed.
After both the high school and middle school bands joined in a rousing rendering of “God Bless America,” Rylee Harfouche and Emily Bernabe read “In Flanders Fields” and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, respectively. But most impressive this year, between those readings, was young Joe Colangelo’s recitation of a “Confession of American Faith.” To this writer, he gave this obscure piece a new meaning.
As a new feature of this year’s ceremony, these three readings, as well as the opening Pledge of Allegiance and final “Star Spangled Banner”, were expressed in sign language by Mickey Barron.
The Memorial Day speech by Lt. Cdr. M. Taylor Brownlie, USN, followed. As the officer concerned with U. S. Navy activities in Connecticut, he was particularly interested in how beautifully Suffield responded to the recent death in service of ET2 Dustin Doyon. In his talk, Brownlie emphasized what we all owe to those who have died in service to our country, but ended by urging us to smile in recognition of the valuable freedoms they helped preserve.
Lt. Col. Moryto then explained the symbolic meanings of the items placed on a table with an empty place setting, next to the nearby flagpole. This is the second year in which this tradition, originally focused on the POW/MIA issue, has been part of Suffield’s Memorial Day ceremony.
The program continued with the placing of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial, the salute to the dead by the VFW Honor Guard, “Taps” by SHS band buglers, and a personalized rendition of the National Anthem, sung by Dailend Willingham.