WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Following Monday’s West Essex Memorial Day Parade, a brief but purposeful ceremony took place at Crane Park, West Caldwell. The service began at the gazebo and was completed in the Memorial Garden at the opposite end of the greens.
Mayor Joseph Tempesta, Jr. Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
Mayor Joseph Tempesta, Jr. began the ceremony by first introducing and honoring the day's Grand Marshal and decorated Korean War Veteran, Roger L. Jones of West Caldwell.
2013 Grand Marshal and decorated Korean War Veteran, Roger L. Jones of West Caldwell
Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
As the ceremony continued and prayers were said to commemorate the fallen warriors from the West Essex area, a special mention was made of Colonel John McHugh of West Caldwell who was killed in May, 2010, while on duty in Afghanistan, along with Sergeant Derek McConnell, who was injured in Afghanistan on July 23, 2011, and died March 18.
The Crane Park memorial to Colonel John McHugh of West Caldwell
Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
The full content of Mayor Tempesta's remarks are as follows:
Thank you American Legion Commander Dan Handy, Grand Marshal Roger Jones and all of the Jones Family, and all members of the American Legion for your service to our country and thank you to all of those veterans we honor today that gave the ultimate sacrifice and for those veterans that are joining us today we thank you for your service to our country.
Welcome to my colleagues from West Essex Mayors Abbot, Gasparini, Dassing, Duthie, Alessi, and welcome to all of our Council colleagues and welcome family and friends of all West Essex communities.
Today we pause to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation, the fallen warriors who never came home to their families and friends. Liberty is a precious gift whose benefits we all enjoy every day, but too often we give little thought to the price paid for it. Memorial Day is the one day each year on which we reflect on the tremendous sacrifices made by our fellow countrymen.
Our nation grieves for the brave men and women whose lives have ended in freedom's cause. No one can take away the sorrow that comes to the families of the fallen. We can only say that these Americans served in a noble and a necessary cause, and their sacrifice has made our nation and the world more secure. We will honor their memory forever.
Every life lost is a tragedy. It is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the families who grieve. Every Memorial Day, we struggle to understand the meaning of such sacrifice and loss. And it always seems so much more painful than words alone can convey. We can only hope that the anguish of the families of these fallen heroes is tempered by the knowledge that their loved ones died in a noble cause.
This day also reminds us that the ultimate sacrifice these soldiers gave happens close to home. Recently we remember our friends West Caldwell native US Army Col. John McHugh who died in Afghanistan and even more recently US Army Sgt. Derek McConnell a North Caldwell native who lost his legs and right arm to an improvised bomb in Kandahar survived for some time afterward only to succumb to his injuries recently. We remember both of these men so close to home in West Essex, both died way too young. Their memories and their families will always be in our hearts.
It is because of the bravery and commitment and patriotism that Col. John McHugh and Sgt. Derek McConnell sacrificed for us who gave their lives for our country that we are able to celebrate Memorial Day today. May God Bless them and their families and May God Bless the communities of West Essex and May God Bless the United States of America.
Caldwell’s Boy Scouts Troop 6 was on hand to honor the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their freedoms.
Caldwell’s Boy Scouts Troop 6 Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
The James Caldwell American Legion Post #185 veterans were joined by the Curtiss-Wright Squadron of Civil Air Patrol based out of the Red Cross building in Fairfield. The military was present to perform a twenty-one gun salute.
Soldiers in attendance at the ceremony Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
The ceremony was concluded after “Taps” was played to honor the deceased.
Sgt. at Arms Dennis Schlosser Credit: Jeff Stiefbold
Bob Gilvey of Caldwell expressed: "Parades are good. This is better."
Maggie Tierney of Caldwell, Victoria Crudele of West Caldwell viewing Col. John McHugh’s memorial Credit: Jeff Stiefbold