BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Township of Bloomfield celebrated Memorial Day on May 28, Monday morning with a parade and ceremony organized by the Bloomfield Joint Memorial Committee and run by emcee and Director of Parks & Recreation Michael Scuerman to honor fallen soldiers.
“We always get great participation from community organizations, schools, boy scouts, girl scouts, and sports teams,” says Scuerman, “Bloomfield has always honored our fallen heroes and we always thank and support our past, present and future armed forces members. In particular at our Veterans Day Parade in November.”
The Bloomfield Memorial Day Parade lineup consisted of veterans, many of Bloomfield’s organizations, and antique cars as they marched (and beeped) down Broad Street from the corner of Broad Street and Warren Street starting at 9:30 a.m. and concluding in front of the Civic Center on the Town Green.
Reverend Joel Daniel Hubbard III of Park United Methodist Church opened the Memorial Day ceremony with a prayer and soloist Sharon DeRosa Smolen followed with singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Accompanying Smolen was the Bloomfield High School Band, who would accompany her again a bit later when she sang “America the Beautiful”. Former NJ State Commander of Jewish War Veterans Sidney Lichter provided the Veteran’s Address, Mayor Michael Venezia gave his remarks, and Councilman Nicholas Joanow recited a poetic 'Tribute to All Veterans'. Superintendent of Schools Salvatore L. Goncalves also shared some passionate words.
“I have a favor to ask of the veterans,” said Goncalves, “I need you to share your stories with us. We need to continually hear of the sacrifices that your colleagues made for us. The sacrifices that you continue to make for us. Remind us how great this country is. What we have, the highest standard of living the world has ever known, the greatest country the world has ever seen, is a thank you to you, ladies and gentlemen, serving in our Armed Forces. We thank you and God bless you.”
Bloomfield students also had a chance to express their thoughts on the special day. Sceurman presented four Memorial Day essay contest winners to read their speeches to the crowd. Isabella Alves (Grade 4), Michael Hamberlin (Grade 6), Deeya Dave (Grade 6), and Gianna Schiller (Grade 12) all offered their knowledge about Memorial Day’s history as well as personal stories about their own family members in the military.
Finally Reverend Hubbard III blessed the patriotic wreath and it was placed on the obelisk located on the corner of Liberty Street and Broad Street. “Taps” played in the background while the Bloomfield Police Department blared formal gunshots to commemorate the occasion.
This year’s Grand Marshal was 92-year-old Robert Eskdale, who was actually the parade’s Grand Marshal two previous times. He served in the US Navy Underwater Demolition and belonged to the Commander American Legion 44B BLFD and Disabled Arm Vets BLFD/BELL/NUT Chapter #22.
“You make your own life and your own changes as you live it,” says Eskdale, “It’s not anything that the populace has put upon you. You do it on your own and for your family. We have a saying in the American Legion: ‘For God and Country.’ That’s how we serve.”
Afterwards, the Bloomfield Joint Memorial Committee Chairman Joseph Ellmer (Treasurer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars) and Gennaro Celano (Senior Commander of the Post) traveled to local cemeteries to play “Taps” for the gravesites, as they have done traditionally for 50 years.