Memorial Day was recognized differently in Weld this year. Veteran Evan McIntire raised the American flag in the center of town at noon, one of seven flags raised then by veterans with Weld ties. There was no parade or speeches but Taps was played, the fire siren sounded and the church bell rung. Submitted photo

WELD — This small town in western Maine has a long history of remembering its fallen veterans. This year, in spite of the restriction on large gatherings brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the tradition continued.

An initial announcement that no service would be held in Weld this year was later changed, according to Sean Minear, Weld Historical Society president and Memorial Day organizer, who pulled together this year’s observance.

David Fish prepares to raise the flag at the Weld Town Office on Memorial Day. Submitted photo

“Veterans are going to raise flags at seven locations around town, the fire siren will sound and the church bell rung. The veterans want no speeches, no politicians this year. Just their families,” he said last week.

Monday, May 25, at noon, veterans with ties to Weld raised the American flags. Once the flags were raised, Paul Harnden of Wilton (formerly of Weld) played Taps, then the fire house siren sounded and finally, the Weld Congregational Church bell was rung for one minute.

Evan McIntire raised the flag in the center of town, David Fish at the Weld Town Office, Michael Pratt at the Weld Public Library and David Latham at Center Hill. Kevin Cochran raised the flag at Skoolhouse Variety while Mike Altmaier raised the flag at Camp Kawhanee and David Hutchinson at his home.

Harnden, director of the Western Maine Foothills Band (formerly the Old Crow Indian Band), had played Taps at the Weld observance for 20 years and planned to continue the tradition this year, even though he had been told no formal event was planned. Because there was no Farmington parade for the band to play in, Harnden was able to be in Weld earlier than usual.

“I was able to witness probably one of the most genuine and poignant moments of the quarantine life we

Michael Pratt raises the flag at the Weld Public Library on Memorial Day. Submitted photo

have been living. We were able to have a Memorial Day presentation all over town minus the hundred folks we normally have….This makes my heart swell for all of our veterans,” Laureen Pratt said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

For decades, more than 100 people have turned out for the annual Memorial Day parade and service at the Weld Public Library. Speeches were given, a wreath placed at the monument and patriotic songs played before the American flag was raised.

A report of a Weld Decoration Day program printed in the Maine Woods newspaper was shared by Minear on the You Know You’re From Weld, Maine, if…Facebook page Monday morning. According to https://digitalmaine.com/maine_woods_newspaper/, Maine Woods was published in Phillips from 1900 to 1909. Minear later said he didn’t know which year the article was from.

“At 1 in the afternoon the G. A. R., Crystal Lake Lodge, O. U. A. M. and school children from every district in town carrying flags and banners congregated in front of C. G. Dummer’s store and marched from there to the Union church where the following pleasing program was carried out and well appreciated: Prayer, Rev. A. C. Brown Singing—Star Spangled Banner, Male Quartet Introduction, (Leland Williams, Councillor) Address, F. C. Wheat, (State Councillor) Presentation of Flags, C. E. Proctor Response, W. H. Ormsby Singing—Red, White and Blue, School Recitation—Barbara Frietchie, Malo Plummer Recitation—Black Tom, Ruth Drew Recitation—The Blue and the Gray, Rose Horn Flag Exercise, Three Girls Recitation—The Faded Gray Jacket, Agnes Cushman Recitation—The Drummer Boy’s Burial, Ella Kitridge Singing—America, Male Quartet After the program at the church was concluded the G. A. R., O. U. A. M. and school children marched to the schoolhouse where they raised the flag presented to the school by the O. U. A. M. This was followed by the singing of America by the children and then three rousing sheers were given for the grand old flag.

“Flags were presented to every district in town so the glorious stars and stripes will soon be waving over every schoolhouse in Weld,” the article read.

This year there was no large gatherings or celebrations. Instead, veterans individually paid tribute to those who never made it home.

On Memorial Day, David Fish raised the flag on Center Hill. Submitted photo

At noon Monday, May 25, Mike Altmaier raised the flag at Camp Kawanhee as part of Memorial Day observances in Weld. Submitted photo

Veteran Kevin Cochran raises the flag at Skoolhouse Variety as part of Memorial Day observances in Weld on Monday, May 25. Submitted photo

Veteran David Hutchinson raised an American flag at his home in Weld on Monday, May 25. It was part of a silent Memorial Day tribute this year. Submitted photo

 


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