Hundreds of people gathered around Chapman Park and along Main Street to witness the laying of a wreath on the base of Rockland’s Civil War monument, and to offer prayers for those who have offered their lives in defense of the United States.

The Bay Winds North Wind Ensemble played “Abide with me” and other songs, before the ceremony and afterward, as the parade continued.

Walker Hutchins told those assembled at the corner of Park and Main streets that similar ceremonies have taken place in Rockland since the early 1860s. He said the event was meant to honor not only those who have died in service to their country, but those who have survived combat and returned home.

“For any veterans that are with us this morning, we thank you,” he said, to sustained applause from the gathering.

Color guards from the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, American Legion, Veterans of the Armed Services, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts stood solemnly around the memorial as the Rev. Seth Jones of Rockland Congregational Church offered a prayer of gratitude “for all who have given their lives.”

Rep. Ed Mazurek, D-Rockland, reminded those assembled in the sun-drenched park that Memorial Day offers a time for reflection on the sacrifices of those who are both “celebrated and unknown.”

“Let’s not forget those who stand ready to protect our freedom again,” said Mazurek.

Taps was played from the south side of Chapman Park, and echoed from across South Main Street, before the color guards returned to the street to continue the parade through Rockland’s downtown.

The Herald Gazette reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at sauciello@villagesoup.com.