SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Young, serious voices hesitated over the names of the veterans – from World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars – who had given their lives for their country.
Those in the audience were reminded – if they needed reminding – that the Boy Scouts reading the names were not that much younger than the young men from South Orange whose names are inscribed on a rock that overlooks the Duck Pond.
The annual Memorial Day ceremony in South Orange Monday morning drew veterans, representatives from the South Orange Police and Fire departments, village officials and others who gathered to honor those who served. The veterans, a dozen men and one woman, stepped forward to be recognized, receiving warm applause.
In addition to reading the veterans’ names, Boy Scouts from Troop 60 and Troop 5 presented the colors and placed a wreath at the memorial. They saluted as the notes of “Taps” carried over the pond to the holiday revelers in other parts of the park.
Ed Matthews, who led the ceremony, said the names on the rock were more than just names on an honor roll: “We mourn their loss and honor their sacrifice.” He also spoke of those whose names were not read at Memorial Day ceremonies – the veterans who committed suicide. “We should all take steps to stem this tide,” he said.
After the recognition of the Gold Star mothers, Matthews spoke about Margaret Fiore, who lost a brother in World War II and who was killed in an accident last October. “This is the first Memorial Day without Margaret,” Trustee Howard Levison said before the ceremony.
Village President Alex Torpey also spoke, talking about responsibility and service. “I can’t help asking myself: Have I done enough?”