HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Residents are asked to pause and observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. Monday to honor the memory of those who gave their lives in defense of the country, and to acknowledge and thank all members of the military for their service to the country.
In lieu of the traditional Memorial Day Parade and services at the Garden of Honor at the township municipal complex, Mayor Doug Tomson and members of the Township Committee filmed an 8-minute video to commemorate this year's truncated Memorial Day observance, which has been impacted by Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders on social distancing and limits on crowd gatherings.
War veteran Tom Cellilli, commander of Veterans of Foreign War Post 8371, who was selected to be Grand Marshal of this year's Memorial Day Parade, offered his reflections; he will be Grand Marshal of the 2021 parade.
Here are Tomson's remarks:
"This is one of those moments that I as your Mayor am truly honored and humbled to stand before you and Honor our War Dead. Despite not being able to assemble together today, we felt it was important to hold a brief commemoration program in honor of our servicemen and women.
"It gives me, this Township Committee and our Hillsborough Community a tremendous sense of pride to show our respect to all of you - our Veterans. Thank you for your service to our great nation.
"Memorial Day is a National holiday in which we honor our war dead and remember their sacrifices to our nation. Coming up this weekend we recognize that Memorial Day is a solemn day, where we commemorate and honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. It is those for whom we mourn and those that we remember this weekend. Those patriots who fought valiantly and selflessly, giving above all of themselves for our great Nation.
"Over the coming days in America's cities and towns, flags will be placed on graves in cemeteries, this year the events that usually mark this weekend will be held like this and then telecast for all to view. However, it does not lessen in any way the significance of honoring the sacrifice and the valor of those service men and women whose memory we honor as we gather in solemn remembrance.
"Our words will never repay the debt we owe these men and women. Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which some paid the ultimate sacrifice and others endured many hardships and their lives remind us that freedom is not truly free. We commemorate those who were willing to answer the call of duty and serve our country.
"I have to think that many service men and women have the same thought that our 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson had when he said “ I'd rather give my life than be afraid to give it.”
Remarks by Cellilli:
"Our nation observes a sacred day on Memorial Day. All veterans are aware of the reason why Memorial Day must be commemorated. That is the day, when Americans should take a moment to remember all those who have died in uniform, while serving our great nation.
"Do most non-veterans really recognize the importance of the day honoring their fellow Americans killed in war? Far too often, the nation as a whole, takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That’s why, they are all collectively remembered on one special day.
"When the Hillsborough Township Committee asked me to assume the role of Grand Marshall of the Memorial Day activities, I was humbled by the honor. Today, I stand before you, representing all of my fellow veterans in the township. That is an honor I do not take lightly.
"As commander of Hillsborough Memorial VFW Post # 8371, an organization comprised of war veterans, I feel an obligation to illustrate why this day is important. Standing here in the Garden of Honor, surrounded by monuments erected to memorialize veterans of most wars, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice, in the memories of future generations.
"The men and women who have died, while serving in the U.S. military, fought for all of us. They took an oath, as all military veterans do, to defend the U. S. Constitution with their lives, and that’s exactly what they did. They came from all walks of life and many regions of the country. But they all had one thing in common- love of and loyalty to our country. May they rest in peace."