WAYNE — Will Ault, a speaker at Wayne’s recorded Memorial Day ceremony, said he has attended similar ceremonies for at least half a century, but rarely gave thought to why he did.

“One of (the reasons) is to celebrate the higher purpose that calls our veterans to do what they did,” he said. “There are many examples of Wayne veterans who were called to that purpose.”

Ault, who lives in Connecticut, spoke for 10 minutes during a 26-minute program that was uploaded to YouTube on Friday in anticipation of Monday’s Memorial Day celebration.

Wayne’s Memorial Day event, like most others, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced organizers in many communities to observe the holiday with a virtual ceremony.

Doug Stevenson, a member of the town’s Memorial Day Committee, introduced the program and named two Wayne veterans who died this year. Stevenson reflected on previous events, saying he would miss the usual ceremony.

“I do miss seeing the Maranacook marching band and hearing its music,” Stevenson said, “and I miss seeing the veterans and children proudly marching through our streets.”

Prayers were given by the Rev. Angela Rotherham and Pastor Jon Olson. During Rotherham’s prayer, she sat beside an American flag that was presented to her grandfather at the time of her great-grandmother’s death. Both Rotherham’s grandfather and great-grandmother served in World War II.

“May our observance be a timely reminder that our freedom was purchased at a high cost and should not be taken for granted,” Rotherham said. “To honor them, we will work diligently for peace so our children may know a world without war.”

The program included a recorded flag-raising, which was complicated by high wind, scored by Dana Reynolds singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Ault’s comments included stories about specific Wayne veterans who fought in important battles, including Lyman Richardson, a teacher-turned-soldier at the Battle of Bull Run. Ault said Richardson was hit by a cannonball in the leg, requiring it be amputated, but he later died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp.

“One of the higher motivations driving Lyman that day was the higher ideal to end slavery,” he said. “He answered (President Abraham) Lincoln’s call to preserve the Union and end the evil of slavery.”

Ault said that those who volunteer to help others, like many of Wayne’s military veterans, can be an example to others to serve altruistically.

“We, too, can be motivated to follow their examples (and) to strive for service in the name of universally accepted, high principles,” Ault said.

Stevenson said the town has a “history of doing wonderful things” for Memorial Day. He said this year marked the first time the program had been recorded in its more than 50 years.

“We knew back in March that we wouldn’t want to offer a program (in person),” he said. “I think people were really happy (with the recorded event). It’s important to have some sense normalcy.”

HONORING FALLEN VETERANS VIRTUALLY

In Belgrade and Hallowell, Memorial Days events were also held virtually.

In Belgrade, a group used a ceremony on the Zoom platform to read a list of the town’s deceased veterans. The ceremony was also live-streamed on Facebook.

At Togus in Chelsea, the annual event was recorded and posted on Facebook. Cemeteries at Togus were also open Monday, with visitors asked to observe social-distancing guidelines.

In Whitefield, traditional events were canceled, but members of the town’s historical society asked residents to display American flags.

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