Seacoast Observes Memorial Day 2001

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By Liz Premo

Atlantic News

Thursday, May 31, 2001

HAMPTON — A blanket of fog gave way to a steady rain Monday morning, but neither kept the annual Memorial Day service from taking place as scheduled at 8 a.m. at Hampton Beach.

Approximately 75 people formed a curved "arc" that spread onto the northbound lane of Ocean Boulevard at the (New Hampshire) Marine Memorial statue. There, along with local veterans, town officials, an MJROTC color guard from Winnacunnet High School, and other military personnel, the crowd of people -- their ages varying from elementary school student to Senior Citizen -- paid tribute to those who gave their lives in service to their country.

Pastor Garret Lear offered reverent prayers, and Maria Martinez of Hampton Academy Junior High School sang the National Anthem before Colonel Richard Martell (USAF) offered his remarks as keynote speaker. The fog soon gave way to raindrops, but people with umbrellas had pulled them open, and several invited those close by to join them under the shelter that was provided.

A single wreath was laid at the base of the "Lady Statue" as those in attendance quietly looked on. Then, a military gun salute was fired into the gray drizzly morning, before an echoed version of "Taps" was played. Hats and caps were removed, hands placed over hearts or raised in respectful salutes, and a few tears stained already rain-streaked faces. A closing prayer was offered before the crowd was dismissed.

Those with an active part in the service then prepared to move on to other Memorial Day observances planned for that morning. These included a ceremony on the Green in Hampton Falls; a Memorial Day parade in North Hampton ending in a ceremony near the town office building; and an additional parade in Hampton with services in the High Street Cemetery.

A parade scheduled to take place in Seabrook the day before was limited to an indoor observance, due to the inclement weather.

For Monday's events, however, the weather cleared up as the morning progressed, and there was an excellent turnout at each of the events. These were eventually capped off by free refreshments and entertainment scheduled to begin at noontime at the North Hampton band stand.

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