What’s Open/Closed On Memorial Day in Belmont; Trash/Recycling Delayed A Day

Photo: Memorial Day at Belmont Cemetery, 2019

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It’s observed in 2021 on Monday, May 31.

Belmont will commemorate Memorial Day with a ceremony at Belmont Cemetery off of Grove Street at 11 a.m.

What’s Closed:

  • Belmont Town offices and Belmont Light are closed. They will officially reopen to the public on Tuesday, June 1.
  • US Postal Service offices and regular deliveries.
  • Banks; although branches will be open in some supermarkets.

MBTA: Operating buses and subways on a Sunday schedule. See www.mbta.com for details.

Trash and recycling collection: There will be no collection Monday; trash and recycling will be delayed ONE DAY

What’s Opened:

• Retail stores

• Coffee shops: Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are serving coffee all day

• Supermarkets

• Convenience and drug stores (CVS) open regular hours

• Establishments that sell beer and wine are also allowed to be open.

Memorial Day Observance Set For Belmont Cemetery At 11 AM, May 31

Photo: The 2019 Memorial Day observance at Belmont Cemetery

After being cancelled due in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Memorial Day Observance returns in 2021 as Belmont honors those residents who fell defending the country.

The observance will take place at Belmont Cemetery adjacent Grove Street on Monday, May 31, at 11 a.m. Following the state’s guidelines on outside gatherings, the event will be limited to 150 participants, according to Belmont’s Veteran’s Services Officer Bob Upton who spoke to the Select Board on Monday, April 12.

Due to the continued coronavirus emergency in the state, the parade from Cushing Square to the cemetery that usually precedes the observance has been cancelled, said Upton.

“Although the parade is traditional event and we’d like to see it continue, I think at this point it may not be possible to do that,” said Upton.

COVID Casualty: Memorial Day Parade Cancelled Again

Photo: The 2018 Memorial Day parade

While the number of Belmont and state residents vaccinated is growing by the day – nearing one-in-five in the next weeks – the coronavirus continues to play havoc with a return to normalcy.

The latest example of that trend is the long-standing tradition of the Memorial Day parade and ceremony at Belmont Cemetery which has been cancelled for the second year running.

“Bob Upton [Belmont’s Veterans’ Service Officer] made a decision which we support to not have an in-person parade this year,” said Belmont Health Department Director Wesley Chin at the Health Commission’s meeting on Monday, March 29.

The annual event has the town’s veterans, military personnel, police and fire units, elected officials, the combined High School and Chenery Middle School bands, scouts and youth groups marching from Cushing Square to Belmont Cemetery where the town comes to honor those who gave their lives to the defense of the country.

Upton is beginning to plan “for some small in person ceremonies that will involve the Select Board and those associated with the veterans in town.” said Chin.

Damp Conditions Did Not Deter Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony

Photo: At Belmont Cemetary, Memorial Day

The forecast of steady rain held off long enough for Belmont to remember the residents who gave their lives for the country as residents came out to march and attend the annual Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration Ceremony at Belmont Cemetary on Monday, May 30.

Despite the forecast, a good number of residents gather along Trapelo Road, Belmont and Grove streets to see and cheer on veterans, color guards, representatives from the police and fire departments, the mixed marching bands from Belmont High and Chenery Middle schools, boy and girl scouts and lots of kids riding on a flatbed truck who traveled the 1.1 miles from Cushing Square to the corner of Grove Street and Huron Avenue.

At the cemetery, the commemoration of the day was celebrated by a proclaimation from Bay State Gov. Baker read by State Sen. Will Brownsberger and a speech by Belmont Board of Selectmen Chair Jim Williams, a Viet-nam Era Navy veteran.

“… [W]e honor our dead, not as fallen heros instead as warriors who sacrificed all defending our precious freedoms which are truely universal. timeless and inspired, as Emerson so poetically declared, “that waft the breath of grace divine.”

The day’s main speaker was Col. Mike Callanan, USMC (ret.), a Belmont native (Belmont High class of 1988) who served as the leader of a combat engineer battalion which made several deployments to the Middle East.

Callanan honored all those Belmont residents who took up arms as volunteers or those drafted into the military and died fighting for the country since the Civil War, serving in all branches of the armed services. He asked that every resident speak to a child about the meaning of Memorial Day, especially since “they are just one generation” away from possibly serving themselves. 

“I ask that each of you rededicate your efforts to focus current conversations not on what divides us but what actually unities us. And that is we are all Americans,” he said.

Noting the noise of children playing in the Grove Street Playground across from the cemetary, Callanan said “that’s what freedom sounds like. That’s worth defending. That’s what we will loss if brave men and women don’t continue to stand up and defend it.”

“Believe me, there are a lot of bad people out there that want to take that very sound away from us at every opportunity.” 

Subdued, Poignant Memorial Ceremony at Belmont Cemetery

Photo: Veterans at Saturday’s Memorial Day ceremony.

Jim Williams has direct experience of the importance of Memorial Day.

His grandmother on his father’s side of the family was a “Gold Star” mother; Williams’ uncle, Frankie, was killed in 1943 in Algeria and buried in Tunisia.

And while he never met his uncle – and a recent attempt to visit his grave was considered too dangerous for Americans to try – Williams said for his family and him personally, Memorial Day “is a somber and sobering day … when you ask yourself, ‘what makes people do this?'” 

A Navy veteran who serviced in Vietnam, Williams joined his fellow selectmen, State Sen. Will Brownsberger, town officials, veterans and residents to commemorate Belmont citizens who sacrificed their lives for the country, many lying at rest in Belmont Cemetary where the observance took place.

Because the ceremony was rescheduled from the actual holiday due to predicted stormy weather, the ceremony was a far more intimate and subdued without the hundreds of residents and participants in the town-wide parade. But there was a good number of veterans from all conflicts, including WWII, Korea, and Vietnam who turned out along with residents, many who brought their children, to observe the ceremony. 

And the poignancy of the day remained intact. On “this glorious, incredibly Saturday morning” Mark Paolillo, chair of the selectmen, recalled the millions of American who made the ultimate sacrifice to their country and “[i]t is a debt we can never repay, we must always honor their memory.”

“They must never be forgotten … and we must always support the love ones that they left behind no matter the burden we must bear,” he said.

Noting 130 Belmont residents have died in combat and active duty since the Civil War, Selectmen Vice Chair Sami Baghdady, a “quite shocking and staggering number” from such a small community. The day is not just to never forget those who died in service to their country. 

“For those … in active duty or those [veterans] that are fortunate enough to be around still, we thank you for all your service for our community and our nation,” he said. 

Master of ceremony Bob Upton, the town’s Veterans Service Officer, read the names of those residents who died serving their country from the Civil War to the Afghan conflict.

Williams, who said his service was in part due to his family history, – his father and uncles fought in WWII – “it didn’t make sense not to do something if I could.” 

“I think that everyone in the service serves for that reason, to take their place and to do their duty,” he said.

Williams recalled the words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on why a person would do so for the United States, that “it’s about the idea of freedom, and this is the best nation.”

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Rescheduled Memorial Day Ceremony Set For Sat. June 18

Photo: Belmont Cemetery. 

Belmont will be holding a Memorial Ceremony to make-up for the parade and ceremony cancelled on Memorial Day due to inclement weather.

The rescheduled event will take place at the Belmont Cemetery off Grove Street on Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. Members of the community are invited to attend. 

Should weather be an issue on June 18, the event will be moved to the Belmont Public Library on Concord Avenue. Follow the Town of Belmont website (www.belmont-ma.gov) and official social media accounts for updates on the event. 

For more information, contact Veteran Service Officer Bob Upton at 617-993-2725 or by email to rupton@belmont-ma.gov 

Breaking: Belmont Memorial Day Parade, Cemetery Ceremony Cancelled

Photo: Last year’s parade.

Due to a forecast of a heavy morning and afternoon rainstorm on Monday, May 30, the Belmont Memorial Day Parade and the ceremony at Belmont Cemetery on Grove Street have been cancelled. 

A reverse 911 call from the Belmont Police Department to town resident at 6:41 p.m. Sunday, May 31, made the announcement of the cancellation.