Each year, the Memorial Day observances in Westbrook have largely been organized by its two American Legion posts, and for more than two decades, veteran Bob Barton has often taken the lead.
This week, Barton and American Legion Post 62 commander Richard Galipeau were discussing the final details of ceremonies to be held on Monday, May 30, at Woodlawn Cemetery and Riverbank Park.
Barton, 86, a retired Army colonel, has been active at the American Legion Post at 17 Dunn St. for more than 25 years. He is a past commander, but he and his wife, Beverly Barton, also organize other events, including the refreshments that are served from the legion during the summer concerts at Riverbank Park.
Galipeau, a former treasurer, has been commander for a year. He says Barton is known by many as one of the faces of Westbrook’s veterans.
“He pretty much keeps Post 62 together,” he said, referring to Barton.
Westbrook is also home to Post 197 on Conant Street.
On May 14, Barton and members of both legion posts, gathered to place American flags on the graves of Westbrook veterans in both Woodlawn and St. Hyacinth cemeteries. According to Barton, there are about 1,200 veterans buried in Woodlawn, with some 600 in St. Hyacinth.
Post 62 is in charge of Woodlawn, while Post 197 does St. Hyacinth. Westbrook Public Services cares for the remaining small cemeteries in the city, including the Conant Burial Ground, which has graves dating back to the Revolutionary War.
On Tuesday, Barton pointed out graves in Woodlawn dating back to the Civil War. A longtime teacher, Barton knows much about military history, and he also cares a great deal about the state of the veteran’s gravesites. He grabbed onto a standard that’s used to hold a small flag and said, “They don’t make them like they used to.”
Monday’s Westbrook observances will begin at 8 a.m. with a dedication at Woodlawn Cemetery at the Veterans’ Circle, followed by an observance at the gravesite of Stephen W. Manchester at 8:30 a.m. American Legion Post 62 was named after Manchester, who was the first Westbrook soldier to die during World War I.
Following the ceremony, participants will be lining up for the annual Memorial Day Parade, which runs down Main Street from Longfellow Street to Riverbank Park starting at 10 a.m. This year’s grand marshal is Rodney Anderson, and the parade will feature Westbrook police and fire vehicles, the Westbrook City Band, and a large flatbed truck with the city’s veterans.
At 10:30 a.m., an observance will be held at the monument in Riverbank Park. The public is invited to the Legion hall on Dunn Street following the ceremony.
All veterans, past and present, interested in participating in the ceremonies can contact Rose Harriman, Post 62, at 856-2152.
In Gorham, the annual Memorial Day parade will step off at 11 a.m. on Monday from Lincoln and South streets and proceed along South Street to Main Street, ending at Eastern Cemetery for a ceremony.
The parade will form up at 10 a.m. at the Village Elementary School. Units will include color guards from VFW Post 10879, Gorham police and fire departments, Gorham High School Band, St. Andrews Pipes and Drun Band, Scouts, antique vehicles and fire trucks. The parade will also feature animals, including the Saccarappa Obedience Club marching with dogs.
The parade will pause at Phinney Park on South Street to place wreaths on the Veteran’s Memorial. At Eastern Cemetery, Betty Rines will trumpet taps. The high school band will play the National Anthem, the VFW post will fire a rifle salute, and the Rev. Timothy Sandeno, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Gorham, will be the keynote speaker.
Before the parade, VFW Post 10879 will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony and rifle salute at 9 a.m. at Hillside Cemetery on Huston Road, followed by casting a wreath into the Presumpscot River from the bridge on Route 202.
Individuals and groups planning to participate in the parade should register at Gorham Recreation Department by calling 222-1630 or visit www.gorhamrec.com.
Bob Barton, left, and Richard Galipeau pose for a photo in Woodlawn Cemetery Tuesday, at the gravesite of Stephen W. Manchester, the namesake of the city’s American Legion Post 62. Manchester was the first Westbrook soldier to die in World War I.
Flags were placed at veteran’s gravesites at Woodlawn Cemetery in Westbrook, the largest in the city, on Saturday, May 14.