WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Veterans Day Ceremony was a moving tribute to the 156 residents that paid the ultimate price in keeping America the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Veterans, township officials, school board members, the West Orange Fire Department, members of the West Orange Police Department, the West Orange High School Junior ROTC, and members of the community gathered to pay their respects to the fallen at the War Memorial. The monuments at the War Memorial, recognizing residents that gave their lives in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam, were recently restored and refurbished with funds provided by Glennon-Sayers VFW Post 376.
The ceremony was emceed by Joe Brennan, a West Orange veteran, and opened with arms presented by the West Orange Fire Department. The WOHS Brass Quintet performed the National Anthem to open the program and Taps as Mayor Parisi laid the Gold Star Mother's Wreath near the WWII monument. During the war, mothers of soldiers in action would post a blue star in their window to signify one of their sons was at war. A gold star was placed in the window if a mother lost a son. Colleen DeBlasi read a poem paying tribute to the Veterans. Greg Boyle, Pastor of Unconditional Love Christian Fellowship, himself a former Marine, led the Invocation and Benediction.
Mayor Rob Parisi spoke eloquently of the township's veterans, saying "how sad it is that we quickly forget and get back to our lives...but it is because of our veterans that we are blessed to have peace, and not live in a country filled with violence and conflict." Parisi also noted that after World War II, streets in the township were named in memory of residents who lost their lives in the war.
Gary Englert, a Vietnam veteran and Chairman of the Township Commission on Military and Veteran Affairs, organized the ceremony. Englert also organizes the Memorial Day ceremony each year.
People are often confused regarding the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors all those in military service who have died in the service of their country, especially those who perished in battle or due to wounds and injuries. Veterans Day honors and thanks, both living and dead, all those who have served honorably in the military during war and peace.
Following the ceremony, the West Orange Elks hosted a luncheon to honor the township's veterans.