Memorial Day Observances Draw Record Crowds in the Hamptons

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Hundreds Attend Memorial Day Events in the Hamptons

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 1, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
American Legion Post 35 Commander Ralph Fatello salutes and leads the Memorial Day ceremony on Hampton Beach early Monday morning.
[Deb Cram photo]

HAMPTON — Hundreds of youngsters carrying American flags and residents of all ages lined downtown Hampton on Monday awaiting a parade to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

Some applauded, some saluted, others cheered as the parade featuring veterans, Boy Scouts, and the Winnacunnet High School band marched by as part of Memorial Day observances held by the American Legion Post 35.

"It's a Norman Rockwell type day," said former Marine Corps Capt. Ed Johnson, who was this year's guest speaker. "It was just beautiful to see so many people."

Ralph Fatello, commander of the Legion Post, said they had record crowds this year in services at Hampton Beach, Hampton Falls, North Hampton and finally in Hampton.

"Personally, today is a reminder of a few friends who are no longer here, who lost their lives in the war," Fatello said. "It's a reminder of where we've come from, where we are, and where we're heading."

This year, in addition to honoring all of the nation's war dead, the post paid a special tribute to men and women who served during the Korean War during a ceremony at the High Street Cemetery.

Johnson spoke out about what has been called the Forgotten War.

In that war, 2nd Lt. Johnson led a reinforced rifle platoon in combat in Korea and was awarded the Silver Star for heroism in combat.

Johnson said it was a difficult time and the fighting was horrendous. Not only did they have to fight the enemy but also the cold, when temperatures dropped 30 degrees below zero.

"There were a number of American casualties," Johnson said. "It was a war where we contained communism. There were no gains. Some people said we had to die for a tie. But we stood are ground and the heroes out there were brave Marines who were wounded. Brave Marines who died in my arms."

Johnson said he wrote a letter to the parents of those Marines telling them about their son's last moments.

"Those were the toughest letters I ever had to write," Johnson said.

Fatello said they call it the Forgotten War because it was wedged between World War II and Vietnam.

"It was hardly forgotten by anyone who served during that time," Fatello said.

The ceremony at the High Street cemetery included patriotic music, color guards, a multi-rifle salute to the dead, the playing of taps and the laying of a memorial wreath.

The high school band played the national anthem, and Hampton Academy chorus sang "God Bless America."

Monday's exercises began at the Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach, then moved to Hampton Falls, then North Hampton.

While in Hampton, the parade made a special stop in front of Global War on Terrorism monument outside the legion's hall at 69 High St. A memorial wreath was placed in front of the monument that lists the names of all veterans from New Hampshire who have lost their lives in the Global War on Terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.

After the final service of the morning, hundreds joined the legion at Hampton Academy for a good old-fashioned cookout with hotdogs and live music.

A trumpeter plays taps as large crowd of people gather at Hampton Beach early Monday morning to listen to the Memorial Day service at the Marine War Memorial. The whole crowd finished the service by reciting "The Pledge of Allegiance."
[Deb Cram photo]

Guest speaker, Korean War Veteran, Captain Ed Johnson USMC, shares memories of his time in war and the respect of men and women in the armed services during a Memorial Day service on Hampton Beach Monday morning. Johnson is also a leading force behind the Pease Greeters who meet planes coming into Portsmouth and welcome soldiers home.
[Deb Cram photo]

Joe Kutt shows a sign of pride and honor as American Legion Post 35 Commander Ralph Fatello recognizes the Navy as well as other branches of service during the Hampton Memorial Day service at the Marine War Memorial Monday morning.
[Deb Cram photo]

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