The weather cooperated – brilliant sunshine, low humidity, upper 70s – as Belmont returned to he public celebration of Memorial Day.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the numbers along the route and at the commemoration were down from 2019 as the ceremony booted up for the first time in three years with the parade that started in Cushing Square and traveled to Belmont Cemetery adjacent the Grove Street playground led by a contingency of veterans and guests, girl and boy scouts, all serenaded by the Belmont High School marching band.
At the cemetery, the solemn tribute for the fallen who died in defense of the country commenced with Bob Upton, Belmont’s Veteran’s Service Agent who is retiring at the end of the week, who spoke of those who were honored on this holiday.
“Let’s appreciate our time together here in this beautiful place within this wonderful community of Belmont,” said Upton. “We are here today because of the sacrifices made by so many Belmont families. We are here because of the willingness of someone we love or maybe someone we many not even know who laid down their life for our freedom. We are here to honor them.”
Nor should the day be best known as the unofficial start of summer, suggested the chair of the Belmont Select Board.
“Memorial Day has become a day of picnics, barbecues, parades a day to spend time with family and friends as we look forward to their carefree days of summer,” said Mark Paolillo. “But it must remain a day to pause from our very busy lives to reflect, honor and thank those individuals that have given all to defend our freedoms. We must remember them.”
Speaking on his tenure as the vets rep in town, Upton spoke of some of his most personal rewarding efforts which may have flown under the radar such as creating a low-key coffee hour for veterans at the Beech Street Center, coordinating a trip for an aging WWII vet to Washington DC on an Honor Flight or negotiating what can seem to be an overwhelming amount of paperwork to allow vets survivors to receive the benefits they rightfully have earned.
“Some of my most proudest moments here in Belmont has been working with our veterans and their family members and the stories I heard at events and activities such as today,” said Upton.
Finally Upton read the names of Belmont’s fallen from the Civil War to the War on Terror, taps was played and the parade reassembled to the Veterans Memorial at Clay Pit Pond for a brief commemoration.