World War II veteran Herb Foster of Edgartown was dressed in his infantry uniform. Ashlee Moreis, 10, and Julia Felix, 10, of Vineyard Haven, had pulled their Girl Scout vests over their T-shirts. All three made their way to American Legion Post 257 in Vineyard Haven yesterday morning, where soldiers and Scouts alike met to march in the annual Martha’s Vineyard Memorial Day parade.

The parade began at 9:30 a.m., winding its way along Pine Tree Road to the entrance of Oak Grove Cemetery, although veterans began arriving at the legion well before the start time, taking advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances.

“The thing about these men and women, regardless of what they did in war or in peacetime — and regardless of rank — is that everyone’s a good friend,” said Mr. Foster, who spent time chatting with fellow Edgartown resident James Craig, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Chappaquiddick veteran John Ortman, before posing for photographs with Sgt. Mev Good of Vineyard Haven. Both Mr. Foster and Mr. Good fought for the Army in World War II, although the two men were on different fronts. Mr. Foster served in the 24th Infantry Division during the occupation of Japan, while Mr. Good was part of the 10th Mountain Division, which saw combat in Italy.

Older veterans made up much of the crowd. Mr. Craig, who has been marching in the parade since 1993 — “I don’t think I’ve missed any of them,” he said — noted that while young veterans are always encouraged to participate, many do not.

David Berube
Major David Berube. — Ivy Ashe

“Some of the younger guys don’t really feel they’ve earned the walk,” he said. The ceremony following the parade, however, underscored the idea that all who have served in the name of their country merit a spot alongside fellow soldiers.

Against a backdrop of 450 American flags, placed along the paths of Oak Grove Cemetery earlier in the morning by a corps of volunteers, Dukes County Veterans Services Officer Jo Ann Murphy and guest speaker Maj. David Berube spoke to the crowd of Vineyarders. Mr. Berube drew on his experiences as an Air Force National Guard chaplain throughout his speech, while emphasizing the ongoing commitment veterans make to upholding “ideals of freedom, liberty and justice.”

Very little in the parade has changed over the years, according to Ms. Murphy. Unlike previous ceremonies, however, this year’s event included a rendition of If You’re Reading This, a 2007 tribute to soldiers’ families by Tim McGraw, sung by Joe Gervais of West Tisbury. After seeing a tape of the 2009 parade, Mr. Gervais decided that the song, which he had performed twice at church, would be a perfect fit for a day of remembrance.

“There are certain songs that seem like they’re made for certain occasions,” he said.

Following the song by Mr. Gervais, wreaths were hung in honor of servicemen and women lost in foreign wars, as well as those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. The ceremony ended with the laying of a wreath at the Oak Grove Cemetery Civil War memorial.