The towns of Brunswick and Topsham observed Memorial Day on Monday with a parade procession, the honoring of veterans and guest speakers.

Guest speaker Tim Martel, who served in the Navy from 1963 to 1988 as a flight officer, addressed those assembled at the Mall in downtown Brunswick following the parade.

Growing up in Kennebunk in the 1950s, his childhood home was near a cemetery. He remembers the graves of veterans and was taught those brave men and women deserved respect and to never be forgotten. At that time, Martel’s grandmother called Memorial Day “Decoration Day,” for the decoration of veterans’ graves with late spring flowers.

“There were no holiday barbecues,” he said of his childhood Memorial Day memories. “The focus was on remembrance. It was a solemn day of remembrance.”

Martel said Memorial Day is to remember those killed, and their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifices of those at home and the families impacted by war.

His father, as a junior in high school, enlisted to serve during World War II, giving up the fun he ordinarily would have had with friends as a senior playing on a winning football team.

“He was disabled when he came home and was not the same person as when he left,” Martel said.

Martel’s brother served in Vietnam and suffered for 50 years from post-traumatic stress disorder and the disabling health effects of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

“It was a challenge for him to get out of bed every day, but he did,” said Martel.

Martel said he shared the stories of his father and brother and their experience with war to remind people those who serve return home with mental and physical scars.

“There is no such thing as a happy Memorial Day when you have lost friends and family,” he said.

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