WHITMAN — The streets were lined with hundreds of locals from all over the South Shore Monday, Nov. 11 — many whom had relatives marching in the 66th annual Tri-Town Veteran’s Day Parade. This year’s parade hosted by Whitman was dedicated in honor of the 75 Anniversary of the Poppy — made famous by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” about the sacrifices made in the war.
The towns of Whitman, Abington and Rockland joined together to honor those who served and those who were lost.
Multiple generations were represented along the route. Youngsters waved flags and many marched in time as decorated soldiers and military groups passed by the viewing stand.
WWII veterans were mixed among those who served more recently, with each branch of military represented. An oversized flag flew over the start of the parade route by the Whitman Post Office as attendees remembered the fallen.
One family who celebrated their lineage in Whitman had four generations represented at the Veteran’s Parade.
Lillian Morgan, 98, of Whitman a Marine widow was tucked in with a heavy blanket in her wheelchair as she held an American flag. She donned a white ascot belonging to her late husband of 74 years Marine John J. Morgan Jr. He served on a ship at Guadalcanal, according to his daughter Maggie Adams.
Adams walked a portion of the parade route pushing her mother to allow her a glimpse of her great-grandkids that were in the parade.
Along with Morgan’s granddaughter Julia Nanigian and her great-granddaughter Scarlett, the pair accounted for four generations at the Parade.
They made their way through the Colebrook Cemetery to view a service project by great granddaughter Scarlett’s Brownie troupe but the terrain proved too bumpy for her chair.
Whitman Brownie Troupe 82685 had taken on a community project to upkeep a grave of a veteran and they were given the site of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. John R. Fox who served in WW II, and was killed in action on Dec., 26, 1944.
Following the parade, two of the families including troupe leader Christine Hadden and her daughter Nora Hadden, 7, stopped to see the shined and weed-free grave at the Colebrook Cemetery.
Michelle Roy and her daughter Clara, 7, pointed out some of the areas that were cleared including the special addition of a headstone that appeared in the last few months for Lt. Fox’s widow Arlene Marrow Fox who died on Dec. 11, 2015. (The group believes that a family member of Fox had the headstone placed over the summer).
Learning history on Fox, the Brownies shared how they felt about volunteering for the cleanup Clara said she knew Fox was “really special” and explained the reason why the group painted rocks to spell the word hero, which they left over the top of the headstone.
She said they used patriotic colors that were also part of the colors of the American flag.
Both girls knew they were a part of something significant and said they were happy to help paint the rocks found at the graveside.
Nora Roy also wanted residents to know that she thought it was special that we celebrate Veteran’s Day every year.
“We celebrate that the people who served –(fought) so they could save us from danger, ”she said.
The group of elementary-age students will be cleaning in the spring and their leaders are hoping to get families involved in the project with weeding and watering the site. They do not want the engraved memorial to become overgrown with moss again.
Every rock that was dug up from around the site was used in the secondary painting project. The painted rocks were formed into a heart shape with the word “Hero” in the center placed over the two headstones.
The before photos proved that the upkeep was necessary and befitting for a hero, and the group was pleased at their abilities to give back
Involving the youngest citizens and teaching them about the Veterans in our country will set the tone for continued involvement for generations to come.
Also along the parade route were scores of athletes representing all the sports teams at Whitman- Hanson Regional High School.
The groups were involved in a community project doing yard clean up for several veterans who needed assistance.
The group collectively agreed when they finished raking that participation in the yard work showed appreciation for local veterans.
Athlete Devin Walsh raked out the leaves from Mel Meehan’s yard. He was just one of the nearly 150 students who participated. Noting it was an important way — as a group – that they were giving back in a small way to those veterans who served, Walsh said.
Mel Meehan served in the Army in Germany and has been a resident of Kendrick Street for nearly two decades. He was a recipient of lawn care by the WH athletics community service. He and his wife are caregivers for two grandsons; Logan, 7, who has special needs and Dustin, 5.
Veteran’s Agent Tom McCarthy, who stopped in to talk with families and thank Meehan for his service said he had an unbelievable feeling of gratitude when he heard that the W-H athletes not only supported the veterans at the morning parade but they were creating a community support project to give back, he said.
At the VFW in Whitman he shared the story with other veterans and he said the reaction was the same.
“They left a strong impression… by giving in such a meaningful way and coming up with the project on their own … made it even more special,” said McCarthy.
He was able to find several families in Whitman and Hanson who were in need for the yard clean-up and raking. McCarthy also credited the positive influences of W-H Athletic Director Bob Rodgers, who assisted with organizing where the students would be most needed.
Victoria Carlton a senior at Whitman Hanson said each team got assigned one yard.
‘’We had a huge turnout. We are all grateful that a lot of people attended,” she said on behalf of the yard full of fellow athletes many still catching their breath from raking.
Town officials, including selectmen, police and fire officials and former state Rep. Geoff Diehl also marched in Monday’s parade.