HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The township’s annual Memorial Day Parade had all the pre-requisite elements of a Norman Rockwell canvas - proud military veterans snapping to salute; ragtag groups of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, moms and dads; a high school marching band; long lines of fire trucks and firemen, classic cars and restored Army vehicles, politicians, police, civic organizations and Lady Liberty riding on the back of a pick-up truck.
Rockwell, an acclaimed American artist adept at capturing small-town simplicity, innocence, patriotism and that which made America great built his legacy on freezing those “feel good” nuggets in each of his paintings. His works graced the covers of America’s top general circulation magazines in the mid-20th century.
Crowds lined the sidewalks, sitting in lawn chairs or on spread-out blankets, waving American flags as the line of march headed towards the Garden of Honor at the Peter J. Biondi municipal complex on South Branch Road for ceremonies honoring America’s veterans.
The hands-down crowd favorite was “almost centenarian” Mary Buckshaw, who paraded with her fellow members of the Rockettes and Rockets senior citizen dance club, riding in the back of a truck dressed as Lady Liberty.
A Flagtown resident, she will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 23.
Mayor Carl Suraci presided over the ceremonies.
“We cannot do enough to recognize our veterans,” Suraci said. “Thank you for answering the call to duty and thank you for your service.”
Suraci also recognized those currently serving in the military and asked everyone to observe a Moment of Silence at 3 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day in honor of those who have and are serving the USA in the military.
Parade Grand Marshal was Ron Newsom, who served in Vietnam as an Air Force sergeant.
“As a Vietnam vet, when I came home from the battlefields there were no ticker tape parades or big parties,” Newsome said. “We didn’t talk about our experiences.
“But through the years, America has recognized our contribution to our precious freedom,” Newsome added, invoking the lyrics of Lee Greenwood’s 1994 song - “I’m proud to be an American for I know that I am free.”
Newsom and his wife Rose have lived in Hillsborough for 25 years and have three children and six grandchildren.
The parade was led by military veterans who are township residents and the Hillsborough High School Marching Band. The parade began at the corner of Auten and Triangle Roads at 10:30 am. and proceeded from Auten Road onto New Amwell Road then onto Beekman Lane, concluding at the Garden of Honor.
Service veterans living in Hillsborough were invited to participate in the 12th annual Salute to Veterans Breakfast prior to the parade at the municipal building.