EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick township officials, first responders, scouts, students, clergy, residents and veterans turned out today to honor those members of the American military who lost their lives in service to their country. The annual gathering for the Memeorial Day Observance was characterized by dignity and inclusion in a formal ceremony that allowed for gratitude and grief for those whose sacrifice cannot be matched or forgotten.
Mayor Brad Cohen was joined on the dais by Township Council members, Sharon Sullivan, Sterley Stanley, Michael Spadafino, and Kevin McEvoy, who along with Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin, joined his call to remember the honored dead. At both the beginning and the conclusion of the event, Cohen recalled the words of President John F. Kennedy, urging those in attendance to, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
Representatives from local veterans' organizations joined members of the US Naval Sea Cadets from Naval Weapons Station Earle in a moving commemorative wreath ceremony, after which John Marmion, VFW Chaplain, and John Famiglietti, EBHS student played a poignant rendition of Taps.
Music at tthe event was also provided by the EBHS Brass Choir, under the direction of Brian Toth; the East Brunswick Community Chorus led by Kathy Spadafino; John O'Keefe, bagpiper; and student Phoebe Struminger who performed "God Bless America."
Guest Speaker Captain Ithan B. Zimmer, USN (retired) said, "We are the same as you. That is what makes us strong. That's what makes our country strong." He described members of the miliatary as representing the people of America and that there was no tremendous difference between people. "He said that we live in "A country built on the shoulders of our Armed Forces." Zimmer noted that events like this were important because "people will not serve if those before them are not treated with respect."
Reverand Erica Munoz of Aldersgate Methodist Church asked the community to be "Agents of compassion and grace to those who grieve." She encouraged those in attendance to "Pray for our leaders to be guided by such wisdom that peace may prevail."
Adding to the symbolism of the event was the Field of Flags on the municipal lawn, featuring numerous flags donated by local residents and businesses that will remain in place until Flag Day, Friday, June 14.