EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - On a rainy day in East Brunswick, Mayor Brad Cohen greeted guests, veterans, visitors, and community members in an annual event that honors the lives of those who sacrificed their lives for America and whose memory lingers in the hearts of those with whom they served. The 2018 Memorial Day Observance was a solemn affair in which those left on to carry the legacy of fallen soldiers took a moment to pause and consider their service and devotion.
Following the official opening that included a parade of America's national flags by the US Naval Sea Cadets - Naval Weapons Station Earle Division, then cam the East Brunswick AMVETS Post #34, VFW Post #133 and the Auxiliary, the Vietnam Veterans of America, JWV Post #311, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, representatives of the East Brunswick Police and Fire Departments, the East Brunswick Community Chorus, and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
Cohen opened with accolades for those in attendance, talking specifically about how their service impacted the township: "We wouldn't have this great school system and these great students without the sacrifice of veterans." The mayor referred to a recent event he attended with Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) at which he cited the achievement of East Brunswick High School Class of 2017 graduate Jatin Khona, who has risen to the top of his class at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Cohen stressed the need for "scholar-soldiers" who combine the traits of "leadership, patriotism, scholarship, honor, and sacrifice."
Pastor Erica Munoz gave the invocation advising all present that, "We need to be constantly reminded of the gift of freedom....We must carry their love and honor and glory to future generations. We are called to carry freedom high and proud."
The main speaker at the event was retired United State Marine Corps Captain Joseph McGinnis who told a story of heroism that occurred near Ramadi, Iraq, involving two Marines whose quick action and selflessness saved the lives of 50 of their fellow Americans and 100 Iraqi police. "We who stand here are the lucky ones," he said, "We have served alongside the best." McGinnis led the group in a moment of silence for "those who can't be with us today." He encouraged those present to invert a plate and utensils at their Memorial Day meals as an acknowledgement of those who have been lost.
Rabbi Efryim Untermin echoed McGinnis's comments in his benediction: "In the Torah it says that saving a life is saving an entire world. It is an act of absolute righteousness." Untermin went on to quote Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, honoring those who "gave their last full measure of devotion."