LINCOLNVILLE — Trust Lincolnville citizens to do their own thing. They are independently minded in that town, tucked between the ocean, the hills and several ponds. And though a pandemic has altered the normal Memorial Day observances — which are significant and solemn in the Midcoast — that did not mean that ceremonies were completely off in Lincolnville. You just didn’t make a lot of noise about it, and you kept your distance. For Mainers, that’s pretty normal, anyhow.
Just before noon on May 25, volunteers firefighters gathered at their Center Fire Department, pulled the trucks from the station, and washed and polished them.
Firefighter Mike Eugley did the same at the Beach Firehouse, and then drove Engine 5 over to the Center to meet up with the others.
They quietly started the engines, including the access van, which is full of equipment to rescue people from car crashes, and headed toward Lincolnville Central School, about a mile down Route 52, taking a left at Petunia Pump onto Route 173.
Along the road, residents working in their gardens, doing stonework, playing with their dogs or working on trucks, all lifted their heads and waved.
Older folks were already outside in their lawn chairs. They turned their chairs around to face the road, and smile at the firefighters.
Lights were flashing on the engines, but it was a quiet ramble through Lincolnville Center, to the school where the firefighters turned around, and headed back to the Honor Roll, next to the library.
There, it was a quiet observance of the all the names — the souls — of veterans who had served the United States, in the wars stretching back to the Civil War. Hundreds of names are on the Lincolnville Honor Roll, and those who died in battle, their names are distinctive in gold lettering.
Memorial Day is loaded with collective memories, especially in New England. Familiar names are etched into the gravestones, many of them the progenitors of those now living. Graveyards today are marked with thousands of America flags; each grave of known veterans decorated with a flag.
The ‘normal’ Memorial Day observance in Lincolnville and other towns attracts hundreds to line the roads, as communities turn out to watch, or participate in, parades and ceremonies.
Veterans smartly turn out in their uniforms and deliver gun salutes. Camden Hills Regional High School Marching Band students play their instruments, accompanying the structured footfalls with composure and confidence.
There are remarks delivered by the clergy, and neighbors and friends spend the day visiting with each other.
This year was different.
Lincolnville citizens know it is a time to physically stay away from each other, and they do. Friends blow kisses from 12 feet away, and merrily wave, like passing ships. But they also know Memorial Day is a deserving commemoration not to shuffle aside. The firefighters honored the dead today, with respect and humble gratitude.
“It’s important to remember why we have parades,” said Firefighter Pete Rollins.
Reach Lynda Clancy at firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-706-6657