By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter
May 30, 2018: Mary Westmoreland, Colonel, US Army, Retired, made Bronxville history when she called the marching units to order for the village's 97th Annual Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony on Monday, March 28.
The first female military veteran to serve as grand marshal for the commemoration, Westmoreland is a decorated combat veteran who served for 31 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army. She is the recipient of the Bronze Star, two Legions of Merit, and five Meritorious Service Medals. Westmoreland's last posting was chairwoman of the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, under the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Memorial Day ceremonies began at Leonard Morange Square, where wreaths were laid at the monuments honoring village citizens who served and lost their lives in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The Fifth New York Regiment, a living history recreation of the Revolutionary War regiment, saluted the fallen veterans with a volley of musket fire.
Among the units marching the parade route from Leonard Morange Square, under the railroad overpass and along Pondfield Road to The Bronxville School, were local dignitaries, Scout troops, civic organizations, and schools, along with the Boy Scout Band, The Sword of Light Pipe Band, the X-Factor Drum Line, and Patriot Brass Ensemble and Marching Band.
In her remarks to the community gathered on the school's front lawn, Mayor Mary Marvin noted that the first observance of Decoration Day, as Memorial Day was originally known, was in 1868, three years after the Civil War's end. At that first commemoration, orphaned children placed flowers to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate dead buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
"This was at a time of unprecedented rancor and deep division in the country," Marvin said. Soldiers amounting to two percent of the national population, she added, died fighting one another in the Civil War. She compared the deep national divisions existing today to those divisions that led to the Civil War and noted that at strife's end, former enemies united for the greater good "to be citizens of the last best hope on earth."
Village trustee William Barton read the honor roll list of Bronxville veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2017.
Wreaths to honor the dead were laid at the base of the flagpole, where the American flag flew at half-mast. Mayor Marvin, Chief Christopher Satriale of the Bronxville Police Department, Village Historian Ray Geselbracht, and Chief Brian Tween of the Eastchester Fire Department placed wreaths on behalf of the village. Mike Fix laid a wreath at the memorial on behalf of Eastchester veterans. Representatives from The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, The Bronxville Women's Club, and Daughters of the American Revolution also came forward to honor the dead with wreaths.
"I believe the origins of this wonderful holiday of Decoration Day is a message to us standing here today," Marvin said. "I ask that we listen to our forebears, as well as our neighbors, and come together in order to preserve our liberty, our justice, and make us truly the United States of America."
Click here to see photos of Memorial Day Weekend in Bronxville.
Pictured here: Mary Westmoreland (R), grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade in Bronxville, and Mayor Mary Marvin.
Photos by N. Bower and A. Warner