Memorial Day

Dan Dixey photo OKO's 1966

Hat’s Off!

Along the street there comes a blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,

A flash of color beneath the sky:

Hat’s off!

The flag is passing by!! 

This is one of the lines of the poem “The Flag Goes By” which we memorized and recited at the Memorial Day Celebration at the Gerry School Playground in Marblehead. Every year each school in town held Memorial Day Services. I believe we learned this one in Mrs. Roller’s third grade class. As I remember we had to really blare out, “Hat’s Off.”  Every year chairs were set up on the playground and we sat with our class, reciting our poems and singing patriotic songs as our parents watched us. We probably wore a patriotic outfit complete with a white cardigan sweater.  I think one year we played a patriotic number on our song flutes. At the junior and senior high school American Legion Awards were given out to a student at both schools. Students were recognized for their scholarship, leadership and character and were presented Legion pins and plaques and their names were inscribed on permanent plaques within the schools.  Any of you readers receive the award?

Memorial Day  Sea Scouts

Memorial Day was always quite a celebration in Marblehead; they seemed to have a love for parades. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself this year as the holiday in 1956 was very rainy but the parades went on, no matter what the weather. Every year there is a chief marshall of the parade and in 1956 it was Vernon S. Sanborn, commander of Clarence Bartol U.S. W. V. The parade was made up of 5 or 6 divisions in those days with lots of marching bands.  Members of the parade included the town dignitaries, Clergyman, National Guard, all the Veteran Organizations in town and their auxiliaries, the Scouts including the Sea Scouts who that year were led by Donald E. Sweet, Gold Star Mothers, and marching bands including the OKO’s with their bagpipes.  That year Lt. George Girard headed up the police delegation which led the parade.

High School Band Memorial Day
High School Band  1960’s

The parade would start at Town House Square and proceeded down to the wharf where there would be a wreath ceremony.  They would then march back up State Street to Washington and up the one way street on Pleasant Street to School to Essex and stop at Memorial Park.  There another ceremony would be held.  It was here that the Scouts in town would join the parade and continue up Spring Street to Elm to Creesey to Green to Turner Road and into Waterside Cemetery to the Grand Army Lot for more exercises. Following the exercises the procession would re-form and proceed out of the cemetery to Turner Road to Green Street to Mugford to the Town House where the flag would be raised to full staff and then dismissed.

Memorial Day Eliza's
At Great Aunt Eliza’s on Memorial Day 1965     The family waiting for me to pass by in the parade in my Girl Scout attire.

 My family always had a great place to watch the parade at my Great Aunt Mary Eliza Foss Phillip’s house, who lived right next to the Powder House. We would gather on the lawn and watch the parade both going to the cemetery and returning back.   When I was a girl scout everyone would wave when we went by.  My mother remembers when she was a girl scout “ one year it was so cold marching that Aunt Eliza came out with a pair of mittens for her.”  I bet they were homemade white wool ones.  Back in the ‘60’s we had to dress in our complete Girl Scout uniforms including white gloves in order to march in the parade.  We also had to stay in formation and actually march!

Me Girl Scout
All decked out in my Girl Scout Uniform



What are your Memorial Day memories? Besides the parade I think of lilacs. It seems the lilacs were always in bloom for the parade and now they seem to bloom much earlier.



Thank you to Dan Dixey for the use of his color photos of the parade from 1965 – 1966.


2 thoughts on “Memorial Day

  1. I grew up thinking it was my parade because the Memorial Day Parade began and ended in front of my house at #1 Mugford Street. I would wake up hearing the commotion in the street, get dressed in my Girl Scout uniform and hurry out to watch bands, military men and politicians line up to march to the wharf. I would go to the wharf and watch them throw wreaths overboard to commemorate fallen Navy men. Then I would line up with the scouts and march in the parade to the center of town then onto Waterside Cemetery. After the memorials we would march back down to the Town House and I would be home. Some years I would go up the American Legion Hall and have a hot dog for lunch. I marched every year till I was a senior in High School. I always loved Memorial Day and will always miss that parade and celebration.


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