HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - An 85-year-old Air Force veteran and a 15-year-old Eagle Scout candidate shared the spotlight during Saturday’s Memorial Day commemoration.
The day began at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast and reception for veterans and spouses at the Peter Biondi Municipal Building, followed by a dedication of a POW/MIA monument in the township’s Garden of Honor.
Chris Machala, a member of Troop 89, sponsored by Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Company No.2 coordinated a fund raising project to help pay for the purchase and installation of the granite monument, which was unveiled by Machala and Mayor Frank DelCore prior to the start of the parade.
The parade circled through nearby streets before returning to the Garden of Honor for remarks, reflections and tributes to America’s veterans.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Fred Quick, an aviator who served from 1953-1981, including four years as a professor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, was the parade’s grand marshal and along with DelCore and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli spoke to the gathering.
DelCore reflected on visits he has made to France and the Normandy Beach gravesites of 73,000 Americans killed on D-Day and the invasion of France, and to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, the final resting place of 400,000 American veterans.
Because there is a tendency to forget the service and sacrifices of those who serve, the nation needs to pause on occasions like Memorial Day to be reminded, according to Ciattarelli, a township resident.
“No great nation endures without those who are willing to sacrifice,” Ciattarelli said.
Quick gave a reckoned back to the end of the Civil War and the very beginnings of the Memorial Day commemoration in 1868, when it was decried that the nation pause to honor the service and sacrifices of the military.
“I am honored to be a part of that great tradition,” Quick said.
He spoke in admiration of the men and women who have served their country.
“They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Quick said.
He also and took time to honor a close friend and aviator who was shot down and crashed on a mission during the Vietnam War in 1967.
Col. David Zuk had been listed as an MIA for nearly 40 years before his remains were recovered; Quick said he was “privileged” to attend the interment services for his friend in Ohio.
The line of march was led by the Hillsborough Township Police color guard, followed by several dozen township veterans; dozens of fire engines from the township’s fire companies, antique cars, a collection of restored Jeeps and military equipment by members of the Central Jersey Motor Pool, the Hillsborough Township Band and several civic and community organizations.