Livingston Residents Celebrate Memorial Day 2011

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Boy Scout Troop 16 Cub Scout Pack 16 of Livingston, New Jersey pose at the Memorial on the Oval.
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The Weiss family of Livingston, N.J. pose at the memorial site. Left to right are Glen Weiss with daughters Emily, Abby, Leah and wife Staci. The Weiss girls had planned to march in the parade representing Burnet Hill Elementary School of Livingston.
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Bunnie Ratner of Livingston, N.J. stands next to the lantern and placque she was instrumental in getting placed at the Memorial on the oval in 2007.
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LIVINGSTON, NJ - Despite the cancelation of Livingston's Memorial Day Parade, people still came to the Memorial on the Oval to pay tribute to Americas veterans on Monday, May 30, 2011. Due to early morning thunder storms the decision was made to cancel the Memorial Day ceremonies and parade.

Many Livingston residents, including some parade participants, were not aware of the cancelation until after they arrived at the memorial site and along the parade route. At 9:00 a.m., the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky, a stark contrast to the weather just a few hours before.  Some visitors felt the decision to cancel the parade was made too early.

Everyone had their reason for coming to see the parade and Memorial Day ceremonies. Some had lost family members or friends in war. Others just wanted to show their support and say thanks to all veterans for the sacrifices they made for America's freedom.

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One such person showing her appreciation was Livingston resident Bunnie Ratner. Ratner convinced the Livingston town council several years ago to do something more to recognize the efforts of military personnel. Ratner explained, "A few years ago after reading some news articles I realized the town only knew about military people serving after they had passed away and I thought it was better to honor and recognize these service men and women before tragedy struck."

She continued, "We have families with children serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places and I felt something more needed to be done to support them.  I approached the Livingston town council in 2006 about doing a project to let these military people know that we are honoring them while they are serving and not wait for something terrible to happen."

The Livingston Town Council gave Ms. Ratner permission to go forward with the project, which involved erecting what has become known as "The Homecoming Light." The rustic lantern is located in front of the Memorial site on the Oval. Ratner found the lantern in the State of Connecticut after a long search for a light with the right look.

At the base of the lantern sits a plaque that reads "The Homecoming. This light will shine until a time when all service men and women are safe at home and peace reigns throughout the world. Livingston Cares November 11, 2007."

Also in recognition of the service of military personnel, the Township of Livingston holds an annual dinner for military personnel and their families to attend. The most recent dinner occurred at the Livingston Town Hall in November 2010. There were 35 families and over 200 people in attendance.

Ratner took it upon herself to commit time and care to see this idea become a reality.

Throughout the year, many people come to the Livingston Memorial Monument and the 911 Garden to observe in their own way the sacrifices many have made for the freedoms we have here in the United States.  Monday was no different as, despite the lack of a parade, several hundred Livingston residents came to the Oval to show their gratitude to the men and women who serve.  

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