Theinert Is Keynote Speaker as Sag Harbor Observes Memorial Day - 27 East

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Theinert Is Keynote Speaker as Sag Harbor Observes Memorial Day

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Sag Harbor firefighters with one of the department's antique trucks. LORI HAWKINS

Sag Harbor firefighters with one of the department's antique trucks. LORI HAWKINS

A military color guard makes it way down Main Street in Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

A military color guard makes it way down Main Street in Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

The color guard before the start of the Sag Harbor Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

The color guard before the start of the Sag Harbor Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

Members of Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455 wait for the parade to begin. LORI HAWKINS

Members of Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455 wait for the parade to begin. LORI HAWKINS

The Pierson High School Band on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

The Pierson High School Band on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455. LORI HAWKINS

Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455. LORI HAWKINS

Cheryl Rozzi, a member of the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, on her way to distribute poppies. LORI HAWKINS

Cheryl Rozzi, a member of the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, on her way to distribute poppies. LORI HAWKINS

A burglar plays

A burglar plays "Taps" at the Civil War monument. LORI HAWKINS

Members of Gold Star families at Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day observance. LORI HAWKINS

Members of Gold Star families at Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day observance. LORI HAWKINS

A young boy watches the parade pass. LORI HAWKINS

A young boy watches the parade pass. LORI HAWKINS

American Legion member Don Schreiber salutes the flag. LORI HAWKINS

American Legion member Don Schreiber salutes the flag. LORI HAWKINS

Anton Hagen and Linley Pennebaker Hagen watch the parade pass their home on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

Anton Hagen and Linley Pennebaker Hagen watch the parade pass their home on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

Daniel Mulvihill reads

Daniel Mulvihill reads "Logan's Orders" at the Civil War monument. LORI HAWKINS

Some pets joined their owners in watching the Sag Harbor Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

Some pets joined their owners in watching the Sag Harbor Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

Mayor Jim Larocca joined other veterans in Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

Mayor Jim Larocca joined other veterans in Sag Harbor's annual Memorial Day parade. LORI HAWKINS

Members of the Honor Guard on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

Members of the Honor Guard on Main Street. LORI HAWKINS

The Sag Harbor Community Band performs at the village's Memorial Day observance. LORI HAWKINS

The Sag Harbor Community Band performs at the village's Memorial Day observance. LORI HAWKINS

James

James "Jimbo" Theinert gave the keynote address at Sag Harbor's Memorial Day observance. LORI HAWKINS

authorStephen J. Kotz on May 30, 2023

A large crowd filled Sag Harbor’s Main Street for the village’s annual Memorial Day parade and observance Monday morning that culminated with a speech by James “Jimbo” Theinert of Shelter Island, whose older brother, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert, was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 4, 2010.

“This is not an easy holiday. It is not an easy thing to lose someone in service to our country,” Theinert said. “We never really know what emotions or obstacles are going to present themselves, and, yet, we get through it each year.”

The key, he added, was the support of neighbors, friends and other members of the community.

“A phrase I’ve learned in my own brief journey is ‘A burden shared is a burden halved,’” Theinert said. “By all of you coming out today, you are helping to take away the pain and the hurt that exists in my heart, and in all the hearts of Gold Star families.”

That support initially showed itself when Theinert was brought home for his funeral, he said. “I remember the funeral procession after Joe was flown into Gabreski Air Force base and the procession coming all the way down Sunrise Highway through Bridgehampton, down Sag Harbor’s Main Street, and it looked a lot like today …” he said. “To say that my family has been supported is an understatement.”

Monday’s traditional parade stepped off from the World War I monument at Otter Pond on a cool day with clear blue skies after a wreath was laid at the monument and Ella Petro, a Pierson High School junior, read the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

The parade was led by a military color guard and members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Elected officials from Sag Harbor and North Haven, the Legion’s Women’s Auxiliary, members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Scouts, and the Pierson High School Band also participated.

A smattering of people lined upper Main Street to cheer on the passing parade, but a much larger crowd had gathered in the heart of the business district, where the marchers stopped to lay wreaths at the Civil War Monument, the Municipal Building fire station, and at the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, before proceeding to Marine Park. There, additional wreaths were left at the World War II monument, the Korean and Vietnam War monument, and in the harbor, in memory of those lost at sea.

The Sag Harbor Community Band and the Pierson High School chorus performed before Theinert, American Legion Commander Bill Stafford, and VFW Commander-Elect Harry “Hap” Wils addressed the crowd that had gathered in the park.

Wils reminded people that Memorial Day was about remembering those who laid down their lives in the service of their country. “It’s not about the official start of summer, it’s not about the biggest sale in the stores.” Stafford cited friends he had lost in war and urged the crowd to remember them.

Theinert, a high school math and business teacher at Shelter Island High School, is also the president of Strongpoint Theinert Ranch, a facility in New Mexico that provides therapeutic services to military veterans.

Theinert said he had last spoken to his brother on Memorial Day in 2010, just before he died, when members of the family had gathered in Maryland for the holiday weekend.

“I think about that weekend a lot, not just because it was the last time I spoke to him,” he said. “But I really believe he was happy with his choice to skip an event like that and go be part of a fight and a mission he personally believed in.”

“I miss my brother tremendously, and I cried yesterday as my children put flags on his grave, knowing that they will never get to meet their uncle in person,” he continued, adding that he was heartened when his children and a cousin uncovered the grave of a World War I veteran nearby.

Theinert urged people to help volunteers place flags in cemeteries, attend Memorial Day observances, and let veterans know they are understood and appreciated for their service.

“This Memorial Day, I encourage you to visit a cemetery, read a grave marker, do five minutes of research on that person, or simply sit quietly and think about what sacrifices they made,” he concluded, “so we can enjoy the freedoms that we exercise today and every day.”

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