NEWBURY – Not even a global pandemic can prevent Byfield residents Bernie Fields, Evelyn Noyes and Bill Wend from honoring the nation’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
Because there had not been a Memorial Day parade in town for years, Noyes approached selectmen in June 2019 about organizing one this year to honor those who served and died while fighting in the name of freedom.
But the social distancing requirement in place statewide to slow the spread of COVID-19 makes a large public gathering impossible this year.
Not wanting to give up on the idea, the patriotic trio decided to stage a Memorial Day event in which only the parade vehicles drive through Byfield along a predetermined route.
“We thought perhaps families could watch from a safe distance at their homes and pause a minute to remember,” Noyes said. “We had purchased small flags for the kids to wave which we are going to leave at the post office and Main Street Mini Mart and invite the children to take one for the parade day.”
Accordingly, on May 25 at 10 a.m., the parade is to begin near the post office, head left on Main Street to Knobb Hill, go back toward the post office; right onto Central Street and down to Manters Field. The vehicles will turn around, go back to Main Street, go right to Great Rock, left onto Moulton Street; proceed to Spring Hill Road and return to the post office.
A plan to dedicate the new World War II memorial in the park behind the post office is postponed to a date to be determined.
“Also, a reminder that we are asked to observe the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day at 3 p.m.,” Noyes noted. “Take a silent moment to remember our fallen military.”
The National Moment of Remembrance Act was signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. The annual event calls for all Americans to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.
While the current state of emergency will limit most parades, wreath laying and Memorial Day ceremonies May 25, people are encouraged to collectively stop at that designated time and remember the reason for the holiday.
Veterans groups have suggested ringing a bell to signify the start and stop of the minute-long observance; holding the moment of silence at a military cemetery or grave; turning on vehicle headlights for those who are traveling at the time; educating children or grandchildren about the purpose of Memorial Day just prior to the observance or playing taps afterward.