RANDOLPH, NJ- In response to Mother Nature delivering cloudy skies and rain showers on the morning of the 2017 Memorial Day, Randolph’s VFW members moved their annual ceremony indoors, putting on a moving tribute for a few hundred residents and veterans in attendance.
Post Commander Scott Montanio was pleased with the turnout, stating the attendance “didn’t seem to suffer despite the weather.” Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops attended in uniform, along with family, and friends of VFW members.
Mayor Christine Carey, along with Randolph Township Manager Steven Mountain and Councilmen Mike Guadagno and Jim Loveys all were in attendance. Montaino introduced Carey who spoke to the crowd.
"It is a privilege for me to be here today to remember and honor all the military men and women who have given their lives in service to our great country,” said Carey. “I want to especially thank the members of the Randolph VFW who do such a wonderful job each year ensuring our community honors fallen personnel by holding this event, and also placing flags in all the cemeteries in town, over 800 in total.”
Carey talked about the vast number of military members who have given their lives in fighting for this country, by some counts over a million total deaths, even though we have a relatively short history of just over 200 years.
“When I think about all the number of military personnel who have given their lives, I try not to think about them as just a number,” said Carey. Each of them has a story, each had family, each had friends, each of them did something very brave, and sacrificed for all of us.”
Carey spoke of how Memorial Day first became personal to her. As a fourth grader, a friend and neighbor of Carey’s was pulled out their classroom when news came that the girls older brother, just 19 years old and a year out of high school, was killed in Vietnam.
“I saw first-hand what Billy’s death did to her family, our classmates, and to my small town community,” said Carey. “Everyone was touched by the tragedy, and after that I had a totally different perspective about what it meant to serve in the military. I think about him all the time, especially on Memorial Day, and I am sure many people here have similar stories.”
Montanio then addressed the crowd, speaking about the sacrifices made by military members and their families, and honoring the fallen.
“Our great nation has been blessed with generation after generation of patriots willing to lay down their lives in defense of our freedom and way of life,” said Montanio. “Today we pay tribute to those brave patriots who rose up and fought for something greater than themselves, protecting a home to which they never returned. We honor their service, mourn their loss, and remember the families they left behind.“
Montanio continued, “In order to repay our debt to them, we must remain dedicated to honoring their legacy by educating all who believe this day is just another holiday. We must ensure the youth of tomorrow understand the true cost of freedom.”
The VFW Chaplain offered up a prayer, an emotional moment during the service, which was then followed by the wreath decorating ceremony, a placement of different colored roses by members of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary Club. The firing of the gun salute and playing of TAPS by Jack Sassaman concluded the ceremony.
After the ceremony, Carey and Montanio held a brief ribbon cutting for a new wheelchair lift recently installed in the building.