He didn’t arrive in a convertible, a sash across his breast and waving to cheering crowds. But Memorial Day Grand Marshall Ed Vebell, 96, held the overflow crowd riveted today in the Westport Town Hall auditorium.
Westport veteran Ed Vebell, 96, grand marshal, regaled the Memorial Day Town Hall ceremony with stories that brought a standing ovation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Even though the parade had been canceled because of rain, and some felt cheated as the sun peaked in through the high, arched windows, Vebell did something few, if any, grand marshals have done.
He had attendees cheering for more of his stories as the artist-illustrator, Olympic fencer and town resident since 1953 turned European theater raconteur.
From his wheelchair, the man whose artistic, on-the-scene talents had brought to life the Nuremberg trials with pen and ink illustrations now at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Vebell proved his skill as a storyteller, too.
Here is the text of First Selectman Jim Marpe’s address today at the Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony.
Good morning. It is an honor and privilege to be here today. First, I must salute the great gentleman we all love to call Mr. Parade, Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council.
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe today addresses a packed Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Bill has orchestrated this special event for the last 47 years, in a true demonstration of love and commitment to his town and country. And thank you to everyone who has a role in making this great parade and these ceremonies happen.
In just a few moments, we will hear from this year’s Grand Marshal, Edward Vebell. Ed is a World War II Veteran who joined the Air Force in 1942.
He was a member of the 904th Camouflage Unit and was dropped behind enemy lines to sketch enemy equipment and positions.
Westporter Ann Beers was among veterans taking part in today’s Westport Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony. Not only did she mark Memorial Day, but she also celebrated her 93rd birthday. Beers served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate during World War II, (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Ed Vebell, 96, grand marshal of this year’s Memorial Day parade, received a standing ovation from attendees at the Town Hall Memorial Day ceremony after the parade was canceled because of inclement weather. Vebell recounted his experiences during World War II and his work as the only artist allowed to cover the 1945, post-war Nuremberg, Germany war trials, which prosecuted members of the Nazi leadership. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com
It was standing room only today for the Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall. The one-hour event was substituted for the annual Memorial Day parade, which was canceled because of rain. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
A young guest at today’s Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall pays close attention to the speeches. The standing room only crowd included many young people as well as veterans and others. It was the second successive year the parade was canceled because of inclement weather. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Among youngsters attending today’s Westport Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall were Girl Scouts and Long Lots Elementary School fifth grade students (l-r) Alyssa Lee, 10, Nina Lauterbach, 11, Lindsey Price, 10, and Paige Miller, 11. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com