Thursday, May 30, 2002

Memorial Day turnout larger than in past

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth’s Memorial Day celebration had a larger attendance than in previous years, due, some said, to an increase in patriotism since Sept. 11.

“We always have a good turnout,” said Town Manager Mike McGovern, who said this year “may have been the best.” He credited both the weather and increased national spirit for the uptick.

“I think it was a record,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Murray, who helped revitalize Cape’s Memorial Day observance starting 11 years ago. During the ceremony, Murray read a poem he wrote about appreciation for servicemen and women, and for public safety officials.

Many parade participants echoed those feelings.

“This is a big occasion for patriotism,” said Police Chief Neil Williams, who marched in the parade and stood with four members of his department as the color guard at the wreath-laying ceremony at the town’s memorial.

“Everybody’s far more patriotic,” said Dexter Hunneman, who drove half-tracks as a corporal in the 12th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. Hunneman laid the wreath at the town’s memorial as part of the services.

“I think we see more veterans of different services,” said Gerard Labarge, a former sergeant in the 8th Air Force. Labarge served six years, and his son recently completed duty with the Air Force as well, he said.

“People’s attitudes have changed,” said Jim Huebener, a former Marine captain who remembered a different time, when he returned from Vietnam.

“We all have a new sense of national purpose,” said U.S. Rep. Tom
Allen in remarks during the ceremony.

Spectators along the parade route and at the memorial service agreed.

“It’s a bigger focus on (patriotism) than in the past,” said Rich Maguire.

“I think people are more friendly,” said Pat Adler, who said she also sees
more people wearing American flags on their clothes, as she was.

Bill Belcher agreed. “People are much more appreciative of the armed forces,” he said.

And that is what Memorial Day is about, as listeners were reminded during the readings of the Gettysburg Address by Andy Hesslebart and of General Logan’s order establishing Memorial Day, read by Mary-Katherine Huebener.