HELMETTA, NJ - Memorial Day marks the passing of members of the armed forces that died during service. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day and began in 1868, following the conclusion on the American Civil War. Unlike in past years, there were not any parades or fanfare because of the coronavirus pandemic, but that did not mean the meaning behind Memorial Day was not remembered by communities throughout New Jersey.
Helmetta began their Memorial Day 2020 with an early morning service at the memorial monument at Borough Hall. During the ceremony Helmetta firefighter Rob Simonelli played "Taps" to honor the lives of servicemen and women lost. "Taps" is played at all United States military funerals, memorials and to signify "lights out" for soldiers in the evening. Like Memorial Day, the original of the somber melody dates back to the Civil War.
The service was the start of a series of small events in the borough to mark Memorial Day 2020. Afterwards, the Helmetta Fire Department joined the borough's other first responders, Mayor Chris Slavicek and the Helmetta Borough Council in a silent parade through the borough.
"We are red, white and true blue all day," Mayor Chris Slavicek said of the borough's Memorial Day observances.
Earlier in the week the mayor invited residents to come outside with their flags for the silent parade that began on North Shore Boulevard. The quiet gesture was meant to honor the lives of the men and women of the armed forces lost during service to their country.
Following the parade, Mayor Slavicek was joined by members of the Helmetta Fire Department, the Helmetta Borough Council, Office of Emergency Management Director Jack Kramer and Deputy Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Palmer for a special drive-thru lunch.
From noon to 2 p.m., the borough served up prepackaged lunch bags containing a hot dog, chips, soda and a Panera Bread cookie. The special Memorial Day lunch was a thank you to the borough residents and its Hometown Heroes. The mayor has been recognizing Helmetta residents who have been on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis such as first responders, healthcare workers, teacher and more since the beginning of April. Monday's Memorial Day lunch was sponsored by Mayor Chris Slavicek along with the Helmetta Fire Department, Helmetta Foods, Panera Bread Manalapan, Spotswood ShopRite and Villa Borghese.
"It was such a memorable day in Helmetta paying tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives for our great nation," Mayor Slavicek said. "In these uncertain times, there is a beautiful feeling of togetherness in our small community.