Westport's Veteran's Green, dominated by the statue of a World War I "Doughboy," was transformed into an open air-cathedral Monday after the Memorial Day parade ended.

During a solemn ceremony there, begun and punctuated with prayers by Rev. John Branson of Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, spectators were urged to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice: dying in wartime battles.

Delivering the keynote speech at the post-parade Memorial Day service on the Veteran's Green across from Town Hall was First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. It touched hearts and led some to dab at their eyes.

"These are tough times for our country, for our state, and yes, even for Westport," Joseloff underlined. "But no matter how rough the going gets for us, we should never forget that whatever we do, it is because of those who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. So on this Memorial Day 2010 ... let us thank those who have paid the ultimate price and those who continue to put their lives on the line so we can be here to celebrate."

The service included the placing of a wreath at the Veteran's Memorial dominated by the Doughboy statue. The wreath was decorated with red, white and blue flowers.

As the wreath was put in place, people stood at attention -- either saluting or with right hands over hearts. They kept standing at attention as the firing detail from the Westport Police Department triggered rifles that filled the air with ear-shattering blanks that crackled in remembrance of those killed in wartimes -- including the American Civil War.

After the gunfire, the Staples Band buglers Ole Vaagen and Cameron Bruce played haunting "Taps" in the traditional fashion.

During his speech, Joseloff paid tribute to Westporters past and present who have fought or are still fighting for this country.

"This year we mark Westport's 175th birthday. In that time, we have seen major wars in which Westporters participated ... ranging from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

Joseloff identified current soldiers:

Westport Fire Dept. Lt. Thomas Richmond, in Iraq as an Army medic.

"¢ Firefighter Nicholas Marsan, in Afghanistan in the Infantry.

"¢ Staples '07 grad Greg Jacobs, in Afghanistan , serving with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 2nd Marines. He previously deployed to Iraq.

Johathan Liba, a 1987 Staples grad, is in Afghanistan where he serves as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

"¢ Fellow Staples `87 grad Calvin Wauehope is back from Afghanistan where he served in the Marines as a sergeant.

Sam Goodgame, a 2007 Staples grad and a third year cadet at West Point. "He undoubtedly will see action in the future," Joseloff said.