BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights held its annual Memorial Day Parade and remembrance ceremony Monday morning, honoring all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Members of various community groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6259, the Berkeley Heights Police Department, the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department, the Berkeley Heights Mayor and Town Council, local girls scouts and boy scouts, PAL of Berkeley Heights, and the Governor Livingston High School Highlander Band marched in the parade.
The parade concluded at Memorial Park where a ceremony in remembrance of all those who have served or are currently serving in the military.
The ceremony opened with an invocation given by Rev. Andrew Pracher, Pastor of Little Flower Roman Catholic Church.
Elefante Music Memorial Day Quintet members Adam Cantor, Steven LaMaita, Mukta Phatak, Matt Ryan and Abby Warde sang the National Anthem before Berkeley Heights Mayor Joseph Bruno addressed the crowd gathered for the service.
“Memorial Day is a day that we remember the men who gave their lives in service to our country. The very people who preserve the freedom that we enjoy,” said Mayor Bruno.
Mayor Bruno presented Lt. Col. William Rapp as Grand Marshal of the 2013 Memorial Day parade.
Rapp served in the Army Special Forces for two tours of duty in Vietnam. He received three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars including one for valor, and ten Air Combat medals. He is a member of VFW Post 6259 and American Legion Post 322.
Bruno presented him with a plaque as a gift from the people of Berkeley Heights.
“From the American Revolution to the global War on Terrorism, 1 million American men and women have made the supreme sacrifice. They died so that we could continue to cherish the things that they loved: God, country, and family,” said Rapp.
Following Rapp was a reading of the names of the members of VFW Post 6259 who passed this year.
Memorial Day Parade Chairman Dennis Ryan then called up Ed Lozowski, Chaplain of VFW Post 6259 to say a memorial prayer.
“The flag of our country guarantees that everyone who lives here freedom of thought, expression, and worship. These are the rights we defend against our enemies who want to take away these liberties. The men and women who answered our countries call to duty to defend these liberties were aware of the dangers that they faced. Some came back as wounded warriors and some never came back,” said Lozowski.
Lt. Col. John Friedlander led the placement of the battlefield grave marker in front of the American flag at Memorial Park.
“The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer, a break in the action to pay tribute to our comrades. Next, the helmet and identification tag signify the personal effects of the fallen service member. And last, the combat boots represent the final march of the last battle,” said Friedlander, explaining the significance of each piece of the grave marker.
The Governor Livingston High School Highlander Band played “Taps” on the trumpet and “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes while wreaths were placed in front of the memorial.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction given by Rev. Debra Whitten, Pastor of Union Village United Methodist Church.