East Hampton veterans, volunteer firefighters and ambulance personnel, and the East Hampton High School marching band took part in a Memorial Day parade Monday on Main Street under a cloudless blue sky.
The parade drew a strong turnout of flag-waving observers along its route from near Guild Hall to the Hook Mill green.
East Hampton Town Clerk Fred Overton presided over a ceremony at a war memorial on the green following the end of the parade, where approximately 300 people had gathered, including a group of local elected officials.
Mr. Overton, who is the commander of the East Hampton post of the American Legion and is running for town board in the November election, read the names of the officials seated in two rows next to the mill. The loudest applause was for East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson.
In his remarks, Mr. Overton said he rejected the views of some who said that war was never for the good, citing the American Revolution, the preservation of the Union in the Civil War, and the “toppling of fascist regimes” in more recent history. He pointed to a line of small flags, explaining that they represented the 47 East Hampton service members who had died during wartime.
He recalled the story of Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain who died as a prisoner of war in the Korean War but dramatically rescued one soldier and ministered to countless others during that conflict. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
“We owe it to him and to the nearly 1 million who have died in these wars to live life to the fullest,” Mr. Overton said. “We owe it to those who have died to make sure that their sacrifice is remembered and they are always honored by this nation,” he said.
Toward the conclusion of the morning’s observances, members of a rifle squad conducted a somber “missing man” ceremony in which a white dress helmet was placed on an upturned rifle whose bayonet had been driven into the soil. The crowd watched silently as the seven-member squad fired a three-round salute.
Ben Jones, an East Hampton resident, played taps and the high school band “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a formal benediction closed the ceremony.