Memorial Day Circa 1931

In 1931, the members of the Edwin C. Halsey American Legion Post 700 organized Memorial Day ceremonies for East Hampton for the first time in a number of years. Legion members gathered and broke into delegations to decorate 15 veterans’ graves in Green River Cemetery, Oak Lawn Cemetery, Cedar Lawn Cemetery, and the similarly named South End Cemetery and South Cemetery. 

The graves, for the most part of World War I veterans, were adorned with flowers and a flag. In each of the five cemeteries, a bugler played “Taps,” and a firing squad offered a ceremonial volley. This was all completed in two hours, allowing legion members to reassemble on the Village Green by 11 a.m. for a parade through town. 

Item of the Week
From the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection

 

Joining the legion on the march were Boy Scouts, who debuted a fife and drum corps, the Fire Department, and members of the Coast Guard, which still operated lifesaving stations here in 1931. Today, East Hampton's Memorial Day parade continues along a similar route.

Following the parade, a series of speeches were given at Memorial Green, near present-day Methodist Lane and the North End Cemetery. Three lawyers who practiced on the South Fork, William A. Lockwood, Harry G. Stephens, and Major J. V. Bouvier, gave “stirring addresses,” according to The Star. No opinions were offered on the words of F. Raymond Dominy of the American Legion, but The Star included an image of him speaking in front of fidgeting Boy Scouts seated on the Memorial Green.

The staff of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection has reminded the community that it is a valuable resource for anyone looking to locate and decorate gravesites of local veterans. The collection has many index materials regarding burials in East Hampton cemeteries, and the staff would be happy to assist in every effort to honor the sacrifices of family and friends.