CRANFORD, NJ - The cloudy sky did not stop Cranford and Garwood residents from coming out in droves to line the streets of Cranford's Memorial Day Parade route on Monday morning.
Veterans, government officials, school bands, girl and boy scouts, police officers, firefighters, sports teams and various other groups walked in the parade, waving and handing out candy to the viewers lining the streets from the Cranford Community Center to Memorial Park on Springfield Avenue.
At Memorial Park, speakers honored the 86 veterans from Cranford who died while serving in war.
"These men and countless other men and women across this country are American heroes and we honor their sacrifice today," Mayor Thomas Hannen, Jr. said. "God bless them, God bless you and God bless the United States of America."
During the ceremony, Barbara Bilger of Auxiliary VFW Post #335 presided as Master of Ceremonies and Rev. Msgr. Timothy Shugrue of St. Michael's Church led the invocation.
Additionally, Orange Avenue School student Emma Donnelly read Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Cranford High School's Isabella Stoto led the Pledge of Allegiance. The CHS marching band and madrigal choir provided musical selections throughout the ceremony, with Lucian Mahadeo playing "Taps" after the laying of the wreaths.
Cranford's Don Sweeney, who serves on the Memorial Day Committee, spoke of his effort to write biographies for all 86 Cranford veterans who are honored on Memorial Day. This year, 12 fallen veterans were honored with a banner displaying their photo and a brief biography read aloud by Sweeney. Soon, the banners will be displayed on telephone poles around the township.
"Hopefully now, when you hear the names of these 12, you'll know who they are and what they look like," Sweeney said. "I hope you have the same feeling as you ride around and see their banners throughout Cranford."
Members of the Cranford VFW read the names of the 86 veterans as scouts lowered a flag bearing their name in their honor. Grand Marshal James Silkensen, Post Commander of VFW Post #335 also gave a speech following the placing of the wreaths. The ceremony ended with a benediction from Rabbi Rachel Schwartz of Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim.
"We honor today all who have served our country in military duty, especially those wounded in its service and those on duty today, especially those in harm's way in troubled parts of our world," Shugrue said. "We are thankful for their willingness to sacrifice so much."