Phil Dangle, center right, the sergeant at arms, stands with the American flag during a Memorial Day ceremony in East Madison on May 25, 2020. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Like last year, veterans’ organizations in Madison and Waterville are not planning parades this year on Memorial Day because of the coronavirus pandemic, but they do plan to hold services and wreath-laying ceremonies.

The Tardif-Belanger American Legion Post 39 and Auxiliary of Madison plan to start the day, May 31, at 9 a.m. in Starks, where veterans will hold a service at the Town Office, according to legion Commander Aaron Rollins. The remembrance is then expected to move to Anson for a service at about 9:30 a.m. at the Anson Memorial, near the Town Office. Plans call for a brief stop at the Kennebec River to lay a wreath, before going to the Madison Public Library on Old Point Avenue for another service at about 10 a.m.

Services are planned for 10:30 a.m. at Forest Hills Cemetery on Upper Park Street, and then at the village of East Madison at about 11 a.m.

Rollins and state Rep. Jack Ducharme, R-District 11, which includes Madison, Norridgewock and Solon, are scheduled to speak briefly. The route is the same as last year.

“It will be a condensed ceremony at each place,” Rollins said Friday. “We scheduled it really tight.”

In Waterville, the Forest J. Pare Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1285 plans to hold a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in Castonguay Square, next to City Hall, and then proceed to the Two Cent Bridge at Head of Falls, off Front Street, to host a wreath-laying ceremony.


Participants are then expected to head to Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Elm and Park streets for a ceremony, prayers, a firing squad and the playing of taps, according to Daniel Parker, the quartermaster and a former commander.

“It makes it easier for us now that some of the pandemic restrictions are lifted,” Parker said Friday.

Like Rollins, Parker said his organization hopes to return to holding a parade next year.

Rollins, who recently took over the Madison American Legion commander position from Robert Demchak, said veterans Saturday will place markers and flags on veterans’ graves at cemeteries in Madison, Anson, North Anson and Embden. He said the American Legion could use more volunteers to help with the effort, including younger people. He said it has been difficult getting youths involved in helping.

It is difficult, he said, for older and disabled veterans to bend down to place markers and American flags on graves, and it would be helpful to have younger volunteers assist with the work. Anyone interested should be at the American Legion post at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 22.

“I was wounded in Iraq in 2007 and putting out markers is a rough day for me, but it’s important and we do our best,” Rollins said. “We have members in their 70s and 80s that come out to help.”

A Madison native, Rollins, 48, served as a sergeant in the Maine Army National Guard, Bravo Company 3rd and 172nd Mountain Infantry from 2004 to 2013. He said when he was young and a member of the Boy Scouts, he and many other scouts placed markers and flags at veterans’ graves every year before Memorial Day.

Last year, American Legion and VFW volunteers went to Solon and South Solon to place markers and flags on graves, but discovered someone had already done so. He said they were grateful for the gesture and would like to know who was responsible.

“We still haven’t been able to find out who did it,” he said.

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