To Honor Their Memories, A Plea For Peace

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Veterans

Veterans salute during the National Anthem.  BARRY A. DONAHUE PHOTOS

Orleans Police Color Guard stands at attention during Monday's Memorial Day ceremony.

Orleans Police Color Guard stands at attention during Monday's Memorial Day ceremony.

ORLEANS Hundreds of townspeople turned out at Town Cove and Academy Place on Memorial Day to remember their war dead and the 391 local men and women who served in the nation's conflicts.

With the help of Nauset Regional Middle School sixth grade social studies students, guided by Police Lt. Kevin Higgins and retired Gen. Jimmy Dishner, a flag was planted for each of those soldiers Friday and flew among the war monuments all weekend. On Monday, former selectmen chairman Alan McClennen, who served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy submarine service in Vietnam, connected some names to those flags.

“Here in Orleans,” he said, “a small Cape town with a population of just over 1,300 persons, 60 men served in the Union Army but eight never returned to Orleans... The names of (those) who did not return to Orleans to live the rest of their lives farming or fishing in this peaceful town are carved in the granite base of the Civil War Monument at the corner of Main Street and Monument Road. Please remember with me, Isaac V. Smith, Joseph Gould, Freeman A. Sherman, John W. Walker, James E. Studley, John H. Cowan, Joseph Moody and Lewis Eldridge.”

Two hundred and seven sons and daughters of Orleans served in World War II. McClennen asked his listeners to remember “the three who did not come back to Orleans alive: Shelton Atwood, Albert P. Nassi and Allen B. Walker.”

McClennen recognized also the service of 66 young men from Orleans who served in World War I and the 108 Orleans residents who served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Higgins announced two additions to the Korea and Vietnam memorial: William “Bill” Moore for service in Korea and Mon Cochran for service in Vietnam. Both were present for the ceremony, and before he spoke, Dishner went over to each for a handshake and a few words of thanks.

Although the origin of Memorial Day (as Decoration Day) is traced to a call in 1868 by General John A. Logan for a national day of remembrance, Dishner found its genesis during the Civil War itself in a little-remembered act of honoring the dead. “Black Americans,” he said, “dug up the bodies of Union soldiers that had been put in mass graves and put them in single graves.”

Dishner asked everyone to join in a familiar refrain: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Families framed beneath a flag flying at Town Cove.

Families framed beneath a flag flying at Town Cove.

Tony Gibson tosses a wreath into the waters of Town Cove to honor those who lost their lives at sea.

Tony Gibson tosses a wreath into the waters of Town Cove to honor those who lost their lives at sea.

Remembering those who didn't return from the nation's conflicts.

Remembering those who didn't return from the nation's conflicts.

Empty boots symbolize the Vietnam War.

Empty boots symbolize the Vietnam War.

Remembering those who didn't return from the nation's conflicts.

Remembering those who didn't return from the nation's conflicts.