Dozens gathered at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs Thursday for a solemn ceremony in honor of Veterans Day, recognizing those, on-Island and off, who have served in the armed forces.

Island vets of all ages took part in ceremony. — Ray Ewing

“I think it was a fantastic turnout,” Vineyard Haven Post 257 commander Jo Ann Murphy said.

The day began with volunteers placing flags at the Avenue of Flags in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven, and marking veteran gravestones with flags at other cemeteries around the Island. Once again, there was no parade this year due to Covid-19.

The 11 a.m. ceremony was led by Mrs. Murphy. In years past, the ceremony was put together by Peter Herrmann, who died in April. Mrs. Murphy said his passing made planning this year difficult.

“It was a little rough this year because the man who has run this for as long as I can remember passed away.”

“Everybody’s a little bit nervous,” she added. “But I hope we did as good a job as if Peter were here.”

Veterans and attendees gathered in a circle around the veterans’ memorial while Rev. Stephen Harding, pastor at Grace Episcopal Church and chaplain at the Tisbury fire department, opened with a prayer to honor and thank those who have served.

“Not just for those on the Vineyard, but for all who have put the needs of our country before their own needs and before the needs of their families,” he said. “We ask that their example will serve as a commitment to a higher purpose and inspire all of us to work for the common good.”

He added thanks to the veterans in attendance, who stood opposite the speakers, and then stepped aside as Mary MacDonald sang the national anthem.

Scouts and families joined in marking the national holiday. — Ray Ewing

Following the anthem, Mrs. Murphy read a proclamation from President Biden.

“On Veterans Day, we honor our nation’s veterans who have given so much to protect our freedoms and the freedom of others around the globe,” she read. “They represent the highest ideals of our country. While we can never fully repay the debt we owe these heroes, we will honor their service and provide them the care and support they deserve. We also salute and show gratitude for all who ensure our armed forces remain strong, united and unmatched.”

Next came the laying of the wreath by Navy veteran Tom Norbury, accompanied by Cub Scout Pack 90, who stood in a brief salute before standing down to allow the playing of Taps. Three gunshots led the song in.

To close the ceremony, Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee performed Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, walking away as he played toward the cloudless, blue horizon.

More pictures.