Two restored World War II military police jeeps led a caravan of veterans along River Street in Hyde Park, stopping at memorial squares dedicated to soldiers who never returned to their neighborhood.
Dressed in green or tan Army uniforms of the era, a trio of reenactors got out at each stop, and saluted as an honor guard from the Fogg/Roberts American Legion Post 78 fired three volleys from M1 rifles. A lone trumpeter played taps.
“This means a lot to our family,” said Michael Greeley, 48, a nephew of Army Private First Class Anthony J. Greeley, a World War II and Korean war veteran, whose square is at the corner of Ellis Street. “This is where he played. This is where he hung out.”
Greeley, dressed as a World War II Army medic, said his uncle was killed in 1951.
“I think it’s important that we honor those who served our country,” said Greeley, who is not a veteran but who serves as a reenactor at such events.
Jack Moran, a past commander of the post, said the neighborhood salute is a Memorial Day tradition. Marked by a single star on a gold and brown signpost, each square is dedicated to a veteran killed in military action, said Moran, 73, a Vietnam era Navy veteran.
“People drive by the squares every day, and they probably don’t even notice them. . . . But we know they are for the fallen,” he said.
Hyde Park’s tribute was one of several Memorial Day events held Monday across Boston. In song, prayer, and personal reflection, veterans and others paused to remember the war dead.
Monday evening, more than 700 people gathered in Christopher Columbus Park for a first-time event that city officials hope to make a tradition — Remembrance: A Musical Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes.
The event included performances by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony and the Boston City Singers, as well as appearances by color guards from all branches of the armed forces and a program commemorating those lost in wars across the country’s history.
Among the dozens of veterans present was West Roxbury resident Bill Downey, 77, whose cap declared his ongoing association with the USS Siboney, the aircraft carrier where he was stationed in the mid-1950s.
“To see them honored, it’s fantastic,” the Navy veteran said of fellow service members killed in action. “So many of them have done so much more than myself. [I was] called to serve, have served, and am thankful for all the guys that are serving today.”
“Americans must remember that freedom isn’t free,” said George J. Perry, an Air Force veteran who was the speaker at a Mass at Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park. “We must never lose focus of what Memorial Day means.”
The Mass drew about 160 residents, including 89-year-old Frank Riley of Milton, a World War II Marine veteran, who was dressed in a blue-white ceremonial dress uniform.
“I come to this [Mass] every year,” Riley said. “There used to be a few of us who would wear our uniforms.”
Members of the post’s Ladies Auxiliary also participated.
“I figure this is the least I can do for the Fogg post and for my compatriots and for the veterans who have gone before us, ” said Claire Pauley, 84, of Dedham, a past auxiliary commander.
When the retired kindergarten teacher spotted 7-year-old Darius Amazan standing outside a corner shop near Greeley square, she couldn’t resist giving a lesson.
“I told him, ‘If you’re at a parade, and you see the flag go by, you put your hand over your heart,’ ” Pauley said. “ ‘And when you grow up, you take your hat off.’ ”
Darius, cringing as each volley pierced the air, placed his hand over his heart. The first-grader said he does that every day when he says the Pledge of Allegiance.
The caravan proceeded to Fairview Cemetery, where two wreaths were placed at the Civil War memorial. But the ceremony was tarnished by a reminder of vandalism months ago.
The bronze statue of a Union soldier, with a musket as he prepared for battle, was missing from the granite stone where it had stood since 1911. The statue is being restored, at a cost of $18,000, Moran said.