The men and women of the Westport Fire Department, including volunteers, lined up to pay honor to fallen colleagues at today’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at fire headquarters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Nate Gibbons/Westport Fire Department photo
Today’s Westport Memorial Day commemoration began with the annual rememberance ceremony at Westport Fire headquarters. First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell was among those who addressed the gathering. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a David Press’s book in progress, “Between the Minuteman and the Doughboy.” A 20-year Westport resident and history buff, Press is a member of Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
By David Press
The first Memorial Day observance in Westport was not after World War II when the GIs came home to a thunderous applause and welcome. And it wasn’t started to commemorate Doughboys lost in the great war, “the war to end all wars,” World War I. Civil War era: Peter Foote: member oif Grand Army of the Republic post. Contriibuted photo
It began much earlier with a nation weary from war, in a country that had been torn apart and was still trying to heal its wounds, a homeland still reeling from brother killing brother. Called Decoration Day, it began to commemorate local Union troops who had died in the Civil War.
Westport’s Civil War veterans were an odd mix of merchants and lawyers, farmers and carpenters, painters and oystermen. And more than 200 of the town’s men served the Union Army in Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor and Cedar Mountain, Va.; Port Hudson, La., and in Gettysburg, Pa. By the time the war ended in 1865, 24 of them were dead.
In the late 1870s, Westport veterans banded together to honor their fallen comrades in arms.They started by participating in what was slowly becoming a national trend—decorating the graves of the war dead on May 30. These ceremonies often included a parade to the cemetery, as well.
Two young friends sailed their Optimists late Sunday afternoon in Long Island Sound off of Westport despite the lack of wind and threatening rumbles of thunder. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Laux for WestportNow.com
Even though Westport’s Longshore Pool did not open for the season this weekend due to the recent unusually cool weather, two swimmers managed to sneak through the fence today for a dip. The pool is scheduled to open next weekend. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Martha Nachman for WestportNow.com