By Dave Tanguay
So much to celebrate! The State of Maine marks its 200th year in 2020, the American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary year (1919 to 2019) and the Field-Allen Post 148 is celebrating over 80 years of service to veterans and the community. Please join the Legion this Memorial Day in the festivities. For well over 25 years now the Field-Allen Post has been the architect of the Town’s Memorial Day events. It most likely has been longer, but I’ve only been involved for the past 25 years.
This year the Legion will be conducting its traditional events with a few new twists. Members are
The preparation for the Memorial Day events starts as early as January each year with notifications, request and planning of the respective events. In early May, the flags that are to be hung on the utility poles around the town’s highways and byways are assembled and made ready. New flags are ordered as needed as well as ordering some 900 flags to be placed on the graves of our fallen veterans.
Since 2005, the Legion has placed the 100 flags around town in preparation for the summer and Memorial Day. The flags will go up this year on the weekend of May 18 and is a collaborative effort between the town and the Legion. The town purchases the flags on a triennial cycle and the Post provides the hardware and manpower to place the flags. The flags fly until Labor Day.
Also, during the week of May 14 through May 19, teams of veterans will cover the 30 some odd smaller cemeteries in the town to place some of the over 900 flags on the graves of our veterans. On May 18, weather permitting, teams of veterans and community members will meet at 9 am at Arlington Cemetery, North Windham (adjacent to the Fire Station) to place the final 300 plus flags on the veterans interred there.
For any groups interested in helping, this is an opportunity for volunteer organizations and the community to come out and share in the flag program. At Smith Cemetery, the town is fortunate to have a group of our young cadets from the Windham High School conduct the flag placements.
The American Legion Auxiliary will be hosting its fourth annual Naturalization ceremony of Friday, May 24 with ceremonies at the Windham Veterans Center at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to attend. For more information contact ALA President, Pam Whynot at 892-4720.
On May 25, the Post will conduct its 10th annual food drive from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. in front of Walmart, North Windham. The “Fill the Truck” program was initiated by Past Commander, Barry Lombard, and has been a very productive program to support the Town’s Food Pantry summer youth program. Both food and monetary donations are most welcome and appreciated. For those antique vehicle buffs, the “Fill the Truck” program uses a restored 1952 Dodge M-37 military truck that is provided by the Windham High School Jr Cadet Corps.
Next on the list is Memorial Day. This is the busiest day with multiple events and several opportunities for the community to get involved. The town’s parade kicks off at 9 a.m. from the town hall and proceeds onto Route 202 in the direction of Windham High School.
The best vantage point for viewing is from the area around the intersection of Windham Center Road and Route 202.
This year the Legion is asking for business and community support to make the parade truly memorable. At one time in the past the Memorial Day parade was the largest parade in town (No competition for Summerfest) and was extremely well attended. Over the past few years it has become a shadow of its former self. With the celebration of the Legion’s 100th year, the Post is asking local business and community organizations to come out with a float, or some organizational participation to show the local veterans that you care and remember their service. The Post currently has four businesses that have responded favorably to our request for support but more would be appreciated.
Also needed are open vehicles (convertibles preferred) to provide rides for some of our less ambulatory veterans. The Post will be using the Korean War era M-37 Truck for our Korean War vets and ask that if any Korean War vet would like to join in the parade, please call Dave Tanguay (phone number below).
The parade is not limited to a specific war era, any veteran who like to march with the Legion or VFW component is welcome. All groups or individuals desiring to join the parade should meet and check in by 8:45 in front of the Town Hall on School Road. Advanced registration would be helpful.
The parade is a short jaunt from School Road to the Windham High School lower parking area and terminates at the Town’s Veterans Memorial (Flag Pole). At approximately 10 a.m., the Memorial Day ceremonies commence, starting with vocal selections from the elementary school chorus and selections from the Windham High School band.
Guest speaker is U.S. Navy Lcdr Mike Wisecup, recently retired. Master of Ceremony will be Post member Brenda Pennels who will coordinate the ceremonial events including: wreath laying, the bell tolling, and ceremonial burning of flags removed from veterans’ graves, and the traditional rifle salute and taps.
Last on the agenda is an open house at noon at the Windham Veterans Center with a picnic style luncheon open to the public hosted by the Field-Allen Post. There will be brief recognition ceremony prior to the picnic.
Following the luncheon at approximately 1 p.m. the focus will move to the WVC Memorial Garden for a dedication of commemorative granite pavers and the dedication of a dark blue granite Memorial Stone devoted to fallen hero this past year, Norman Spear, who was a POW in North Korea as a result of the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo. Spear spent 11 months incarcerated in North Korea.
All the events noted are open to the public. Join in for one or more of these events over the Memorial Day period and help celebrate the 100 years of service by the Legion to veterans and the community. To volunteer support or register an entry in the parade please contact, Post Adjutant, Dave Tanguay at 892-1306.