NEWTON, NJ—The rain storms that passed through Newton on Monday, May 30, did not stop the residents of the Town of Newton from commemorating those who fought for their freedom and paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives.
Although the attendance was lighter than in years past, the residents of Newton lined Spring Street in red, white and blue ponchos and umbrellas, waving American Flags as high as they could.
The parade, although light in walkers this year included the following groups:
- Town Crier- Bill Joseph
- Newton Police Escort
- Color Guard-Newton Boy Scout Troop 85
- Newton VFW Post 5360
- Newton American Legion Post 86
- Grand Marshalls-
- Charles Hearn (Deceased) World War II
- Guiseppi (Joe) Geraci World War II
- George Hayek, World War II and Korean War
- Veterans of
- World War II
- Korean War
- Vietnam War
- Desert Storm War
- WSUS & WNNJ
- Newton Town Council
- Helen LeFois and family, Councilwoman
- Daniel Flynn, Councilman
- Wayne Levante and family, Deputy Mayor
- Little Miss Newton- Liliana Flynn
- Little Mister Newton- Barry Mayfield
- Christ Community Church Outreach
- Model A’s
- 200 Club
- Mirage Productions
- Boy Scout Troop 81
- Cub Scout Pack 181
- Girls Scouts Newton Service Unit
- Girl Scout Troop 5688
- Newton Fire Department
- Newton First Aid Squad
- Andover Boro Fire Department
- Andover Township Fire Department
- Fredon Fire Department & EMS
The parade followed the traditional route from Spring Street down to Memory Park, where a Memorial Day Ceremony begins to honor the fallen heroes.
Mark Hontz, Master of Ceremonies began the ceremony by welcoming all those in attendance and remarking on the “wonderful” weather, along with Bob Rogers, Commander of the Newton VFW Post 5360.
Due to the rain storm, the Newton High School Band was unable to attend with their instruments and so, Hontz led the crowd in the acapella singing of the National Anthem.
The Memorial Day celebration was held in honor of the three Grand Marshalls: Charles Hearn - Deceased World War II veteran, Guiseppi (Joe) Geraci World War II veteran and George Hayek who served in both World War II and the Korean War.
Hearn received a Bronze Star in Belgium for his heroic efforts during World War II for refusing to surrender to the Germans, despite his company commander telling him and his machine gun operator comrade to surrender before relief came to rescue his company the next morning.
Sadly Hearn passed away this year on March 5, but the Parade committee decided to honor him as an absentee Grand Marshall for his service and bravery.
Geraci was awarded the Purple Heart by General George Patton for being wounded by a landmine. He still has a piece of the shrapnel in his leg to this day. He returned to Active Duty and served in the “Battle of the Bulge” in Bastone, Belgium, as well as other positions around Europe.
Hayek, most famously known for his father opening up Hayek’s Market in Newton, joined the Merchant Marines during World War II when he was 18 years old. He was on board a ship in the Philippine Islands when the radio operator announced that an atom bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima.
After World War II, Hayek joined the Army National Guard in Franklin until 1951, when he signed up for the Korean War, in which he served in the finance office. After both wars, he was in the reserves in New Jersey for 10 years, until he became part owner of Hayek’s Market with his brother after their father’s retirement.
Father Benjamin J Williams, from Post 86 read the invocation, followed by the reading of General Logan’s Order of the Day, by Thomas Hontz, a student at Kittatinny High School.
Mayor Sandra Diglio, who puts together the entire parade every year was in attendance as the Master of Ceremonies thanked Diglio and all those who sponsor the parade such as: Minisink Press Inc., McGuire Chevrolet Cadillac, Service Electric Cable TV, Christ Community Church,and the Town of Newton.
Boy Scout, Brendon Read, read the Gettysburg Address, Poppy Queen, Katie McSweeny, read a recitation of Flander’s Fields, and Richard A Vohden read the Memorial Day Address.
Reverend Frank Leone, from Christ Community Church, gave the Benediction, which was followed by the crowd singing “God Bless America” and the Memorial Poem by Chaplain Jack Tripp, Post 86.
Bob Glesias, Post 86 began the Memorial Service by saying a few words, while the Hontz family played the song “Nearer My God to Thee”, which was followed by a prayer by Chaplain Charlie Kampka and Rogers reading aloud the words for everyone to hear, of the most recognizable song, “Taps”.
The Auxiliary of the VFW paid tribute by laying poppies in the ground at the memorial site in Memory Park, while the firing squad fired and Suzanne Hontz played “Taps”.
The Newton High School Honors Choir closed out the ceremony with their acapella rendition of “God Bless the USA”.
Tap into Newton wants to thank all those who served and gave their lives for our freedom, as well as their families. As the “Memorial Day” poem by Jack Tripp, recited during the ceremony said
“This Memorial Day spend five minutes reflecting on those who have guaranteed you, by their sacrifice, the right to spend another 23 hours and 55 minutes storming the beaches at the shore. But remember this to be true, all gave some, some gave all."