Memorial Day 2020 in Nahant
The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions of social distancing brought unprecedented obstacles for the Memorial Day committee in planning for the traditional parade and services. A meeting was held at town hall (wearing masks and maintaining 6 feet distance) with Town Administrator, Tony Barletta; Administrative Assistant, Bobbie-Jo Blair, Nahant Chief of Police, Robert Dwyer and Molly Conlin, to discuss the possibility of a motorcade.
The next meeting was a remote meeting of the Memorial Day committee, and included public health nurse Deborah Murphy. Much discussion centered on public safety issues. With public safety the priority, the Memorial Day Committee came to the difficult decision to cancel the Memorial Day parade.
An alternative plan was developed with the full support and assistance of the Town. The traditional Memorial Day services were prerecorded by a professional filming company retained by the Town, to be aired on the Nahant channel on Memorial Day. The prayers and speeches were pre-recorded from remote locations. Town administrator Tony Barletta, who made many of the necessary arrangements, opened the video with a description of the format of the program.
To prepare Greenlawn Cemetery ahead of the usual schedule, DPW superintendent Zachary Taylor, his crew and David Wilson mowed and groomed the cemetery the day before filming. Volunteers from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 215, committee member Alice Roy, and VSO Jon Lazar assisted in placing markers and flags at veterans’ graves. John Roy double-checked the placements.
The day of the filming, Wednesday, May 13 th, was blustery and chilly but crystal clear. The first of the ceremonies took place at the wharf. J Clarke Orzalli, Rear Admiral USN Ret., offered a prayer for those who had perished at sea in service to our country. Selectman Richard Lombard, Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran and this year’s Grand Marshal, tossed the traditional wreath from the wharf. A three round rifle salute by Chris Dent, veteran and legion member, followed the prayer. Taps was played by Town Moderator and veteran David Conlin.
Concluding the wharf ceremony, the film crew and participants moved to Greenlawn Cemetery. The ceremony began with an invocation by post 215 chaplain and Committee member Toby Quirk.
The Gettysburg address was recited flawlessly by Wylie Roosien.
The names of Nahant veterans and veterans with Nahant ties who had died since last Memorial Day were read by Memorial Day Committee chair Molly Conlin. As each name was read, Wayne Noonan, veteran and member of legion post 215 sounded the memorial bell. A three round rifle salute was followed by taps and benediction. The final ceremony took place at the Nahant Life Saving Station, where members of the Mortimer G. Robbins post 215 (chartered 100 years ago, in 1920) raised the flag from half- mast.
Parade Chief Marshal Ed Manzano was assisted by Committee member and veteran Tom Gallery, veteran Peter Przybycien, and chaplain Toby Quirk.
The Memorial Day ceremonies 2020 concluded with the playing of the national anthem.
These changes to the traditions of the 133rd Memorial Day parade in Nahant, made it possible for its citizens to observe Memorial Day from their homes on TV or social media. The Memorial Day committee would like to thank the wide range of people who were involved in making Memorial Day traditions available to the citizens of Nahant under unprecedented circumstances: Town Administrator Tony Barletta; Administrative Assistant Bobbie-Jo Blair; the Nahant Selectmen, Veteran’s Agent Jon Lazar; American Legion auxiliary Unit 215; American Legion Post 215; the Nahant garden club; Kevin Andrews, principal Johnson School; public health nurse Deborah Murphy; Nahant DPW: the Nahant Police Dept.; the Nahant Fire Dept.; and Bradley McDonough, who did excellent work on the video.
Special thanks go to state senator Brendan Crighton and state representative Peter Capano, who contributed words of inspiration and commemoration, prerecorded from remote locations.
Molly Conlin, Chair
Ed Manzano Chief Marshal
John B. Collins III, Lynda Fields
J. Clarke Orzalli