WORCESTER – The rain may have swept over Elm Park on Sunday, but it did little to deter the annual Memorial Day Water ceremony honoring soldiers lost at sea.
“It’s a water ceremony, you might as well have a little more water,” said Patrick McAdam, who threw a wreath on the Myra Hiatt Kraft catwalk in Lincoln Pond on Sunday.
Phil Madaio, president of the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial, served as master of ceremonies for the event commemorating those lost at sea while serving with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps United and the US Merchant Navy.
“We have to honor these people. This is what made America great. That’s what made this country, ”Madaio said.
The water ceremony returns
The water ceremony returned after the event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Madaio said those who served and gave their lives in the military helped make the United States the country it is today.
Pastor George Vogel offered the invocation at the start of the ceremony and the blessing to close it. Vogel asked for God’s continued support as the country remembers past wars and conflicts and deals with new adversaries.
“We do this every year when the weather permits, but every time we do it it seems to matter more and make sense,” Vogel said. “We know that while this weekend is seen by many as a long and enjoyable weekend to officially kick off the summer, we come here for a very different purpose today. We come here today to pay tribute to those who lost their lives at sea and in other bodies of water. “
Mayor Petty, others honor soldiers lost at sea
Vogel’s invocation was followed by a singing of the national anthem by Evelyn Rose Bousbouras and remarks from Mayor Joseph M. Petty.
“The men and women who fight at sea hold a special place in the minds and hearts of every country,” said Petty. “Since the dawn of the Age of Exploration, we have given captains special powers and reverence, a tacit understanding of the risk they run every time they go to sea.”
The Worcester Detachment Marine Corps League served as the shooting detail while Worcester Police Officer Sean Lovely, a US Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War, played the bagpipes. Alex Arriaga, director of veteran services for the city, threw a wreath on Lovely’s behalf in honor of those lost in the USS Bennett.
McAdam served in the USS Intrepid from 1969 to 1973 and participated in the Worcester ceremony for seven years.
“We have to remember, never forget,” McAdam said. “People have given in and you don’t want to forget these guys.”
McAdam pays tribute to 243 losses at sea on USS Intrepid
McAdam, who is from New York, said he loved the water ceremony from the first time he saw it. This year, he dedicated his crown to the 243 lost at sea aboard the USS Intrepid, notably for Richard Francis Urban. McAdam said Urban was 19 when he died in 1972. The Intrepid was throwing jets into rough waters and a fleeing plane took Urban from the side of the ship, McAdam said.
Urban and McAdam both worked on the Intrepid cockpit in different divisions. McAdam said he reflected on the life he was able to live after serving on the Intrepid and how Urban had not been able to live this phase of his life.
“I think about him a lot because he was the same age as me. He was 19, ”McAdam said. “I’m here. I’m 69 now and he hasn’t lived that part of his life.
Ceremony one of Toomey’s favorite Memorial Day weekend events
Among the handful of spectators who braved the rain to attend the event was General Councilor Kathleen M. Toomey. The water ceremony is one of Toomey’s favorite events over Memorial Day weekend.
“It really is a meaningful ceremony. It’s done beautifully and I think being able to come out and reunite in memory of those whose lives have been lost at sea is really a very cathartic experience for all of us, ”said Toomey. “It is important not to forget the story.”
Toomey said she hopes people will remember why Memorial Day was created.
“People should remember that this weekend was created to remember those who gave the supreme sacrifice so that we can all live in freedom. And it’s not about sales, it’s not about barbecues and things like that. It’s great to enjoy family and these times, but we should all take a few minutes to remember those who gave this supreme sacrifice.