NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - American Legion Post #433 and the Borough of New Providence hosted their annual Memorial Day Parade Monday morning to honor and remember members of the community who have served in the armed forces.
Surviving veterans and fallen soldiers were recognized as heroes throughout the event for their tremendous service to the country. Of the Memorial Day Parade, Mayor J. Brooke Hern said “We recognize the sacrifices that the veterans in the parade have made, remember those who gave their lives for the cost of freedom, and honor the families in New Providence that have lost loved ones.” Celebrating Memorial Day in New Providence, he said, is important because “it helps us to find our responsibility to live our lives to respect those people.”
The Memorial Day festivities began with a Memorial Service led by the Veterans of Foreign Wars from American Legion Post #433. Townspeople gathered at Veterans Memorial Park early in the morning to continue New Providence’s tradition of paying tribute to local veterans and deceased soldiers.
Veteran Russ Davidson said “We honor all veterans who have done the ultimate sacrifice [on Memorial Day]. . . we thank our country and hope for continued peace in the world.” Of the deceased members of the armed forces, Hern stated “If we uphold the values that they fought for, then they will not have died in vain.”
Master of ceremonies and veteran Nick Perillo expressed how pleased he was when his grandson told him that students still say the Pledge of Allegiance each day in school. Emotions ran deep when Maria Lopez sang both the National Anthem and America the Beautiful and members of the New Providence High School Marching Band played Taps.
Former Mayor Al Morgan thanked Perillo for his dedication to Veterans Memorial Park, saying that the park would not have been possible without Perillo’s support. The ceremony concluded by urging townspeople to give thanks to the people who gave us the freedom we enjoy this Memorial Day and throughout the year.
Directly following the Memorial Service, organizations marching in the parade gathered on Central Avenue. Troop 1206 Girl Scout leader Nadine Geoffroy said that she hopes her Girl Scouts can learn “about the veterans that sacrificed so much” and can “march to honor the memory of those who didn’t come home and those still serving.” The parade began at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Central Avenue and Springfield Avenue with opening ceremonies being held at the Presbyterian Church.
American Legion Post #433 speaker Daniel T. Mahon addressed the town in a tearful speech, saying that Memorial Day is a time to recognize “ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things.”
“Today,” he said, “is the day we remember the heroes,” especially New Jersey residents who have given their lives in the fight for freedom. On route, the parade stopped at both the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church for a Memorial Service that saluted fallen soldiers.
Reverend Michael Flavin gave a powerful speech about the importance of freedom while veterans from American Legion Post #433 and members from the New Providence Marching Band honored the deceased.
The parade ended at the Veterans’ Memorial at the New Providence Memorial Library. Here, the concluding service again remembered the deceased members of our armed forces. Immediately following the service, New Providence residents were invited to refreshments at the New Providence Senior Citizens Center and to the American Legion Post #433’s “Military Memorabilia Display” at the Post Hall.
Though these events marked the end of this year’s Memorial Day Parade in New Providence, as one veteran put it, “it’s important that people recognize the sacrifices we have made not just today but always.”