BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights paid tribute on Memorial Day in their traditional parade and ceremony on Monday, May 26. The theme of the parade ceremony was "All Gave Some -- Some Gave All".
The parade route began at the VFW Post 6259 and proceeded through downtown. The flag waiving families cheered on the parade participants as they marched by, throwing candy and handing flags to the crowd. Leading the charge was Raymond DiGiambattista as the 2014 Grand Marshal.
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"On this day, we should remember why we are here," said Mayor Joe Bruno. He addressed the crowd speaking of the history and meaning of Memorial Day as the solemnest of all holidays, decorating the graves of the returning veterans, dating back to the Civil War.
VFW Post 6259 Commander, Walter Gloss, reminded the crowd that Memorial Day is a time to give tribute to all men and women who served and sacrificed in the American Armed Forces, giving their lives on behalf of the freedoms and way of life that we value today. "Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms that all Americans enjoy," said Gloss. "These freedoms were paid for with the lives of others that few of us actually knew. That is why we have collectively assembled --- to remember on one special day, Memorial Day."
Grand Marshal DiGiambattista, a corporal with the Army in Korea, brought to life the memories of a few brothers of the Berkeley Heights Post 6259. "The sacrifice is not only giving your life for your country, sacrifice is also dealing with the effect of war time their entire life." Talking of debilitating injuries to returning soldiers. "When we walk the street and accept your applause, it's not about us -- it's about the million or more young men that went off to war and never came back," said DiGiambattista.
"We should thank the men and women that have returned," said Bruno. "It is a day to celebrate the freedoms that we have. We have these freedoms because of the people that have sacrificed for our American way of life. To the Veterans, we thank you."
The invocation was given by Union Village United Methodist Church Pastor Rev. Debra Whitten. The musical segment of the ceremony included "America the Beautiful" by Shayna Atkinson; a patriotic medley "This is my Country" and "God Bless America" by members of Hickory Tree Chorus; and "The Star Spangled Banner" by The Elefante Music Memorial Day Quartet.
The Color Guard took their position by the wreaths as the ceremony continued with the Memorial Prayer given by Ed Lozowski, VFW Chaplain and the honoring the deceased member of VFW Post 6259. The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps and Echo Trumpets by the Gov. Livingston High School Highlander Band along with Amazing Grace.
The annual Berkeley Heights Memorial Day Ceremony formally ended with a benediction by Church of the Little Flower Pastor, Rev. Andy Pracher. The celebration then resumed with complementary refreshments and hot dogs in Memorial Field.
VFW Post 6259 Commander Walter Gloss recognized Dr. Patrick Smith, Tom Barton, Dennis Ryan and Mayor Joe Bruno for helping the VFW year in and year out.
Included in the parade procession: Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6259 Color Guard and members, Military Vehicles, Berkeley Heights Police Department, Mayor Joe Bruno and Town Council, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies and Daisy Troops, Gov. Livingston High School Highlander Band, Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary, 3rd NJ Regiment/Revolutionary War Reenactment Group, Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad, Senior Citizens of Berkeley Heights, Berkeley Heights Community Pool Swim Team, Westminster Nursery School, PAL of Berkeley Heights, Berkeley Heights Recreation and BHYSC, Centennial Jazz Band, Galloping Hill Cruisers/Vintage Cars and the Berkeley Heights Township Road Department Vehicles.
Picture credits: Charlie Pratt and Bobbie Peer