ROXBURY, NJ - Despite cloudy skies above, full hearts shined through at this year’s Roxbury Memorial Day Parade, the first parade since 2015 not canceled due to bad weather.
The patriotic procession began at 10 a.m. and featured sport and antique cars, emergency response vehicles, bagpipe players, Scouts, town officials and representatives of other groups. However, the main focus of the event was “to honor the men and women who gave their lives and those still unaccounted for,” noted the township government website.
The parade began at the parking lot of the Lincoln/Roosevelt School, then proceeded to Main Street where there was a military salute at the Presbyterian Church cemetery.
Marching to the tune of the Roxbury High School Band, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2833 and its Auxiliary joined with some Disabled American Veterans of Morris County in participating with heads held high.
“It’s nice to see the community and town come together,” said Succasunna resident Armand Masullo whose two daughters marched too.
The parade moved to Eyland Ave, crossed over Route 10 and passed Eisenhower Middle School before going around Horseshoe Lake Park.
Ledgewood resident Jack Hogan, who served in the Navy during the Korean War from 1949 to 1953, was the parade’s Grand Marshal.
“It’s nice to say ‘Thank you’” to those in the parade for serving the community, said May Carmine, who watched the parade and had neighbors marching in it.
A Time to Remember
The march ended at the Roxbury War Memorial, where there was a special service. At the ceremony, the focus turned from a day of leisure to one of remembrance as participants looked back on those who lost their lives in battle or from other injuries sustained while serving.
Those speaking at the ceremony said Roxbury also cherishes those who fought in the armed forces and returned. “We do more than carry on a holiday,” said John Lehnert, commander of Post 2833. "We continue our commitment” to honoring those who served.
Michael Mangano and Mario Marcano, retired Scout Masters of Troop 188, told the story of Jack Hogan’s service, explaining how the grand marshal served from 1949 to 1953 in the Korean War and moved to Roxbury in 2013.
Lehnert spoke about keeping veterans safe after their service, stressing that veterans deserve to be healthy and educated.
According the the US Census Bureau, “Both the number and rate of working-age veterans without health insurance declined to a new low during the past four years,” as of 2017. For educational benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers the GI Bill, which “provides up to 36 months of education benefits to those who have served on active duty after September 10, 2001.”
Staff Sgt. Don Miller, commander of Disabled American Veterans of Morris County, cited examples of local soldiers like Donald Brown - who died from wounds suffered in combat in Iraq in 2006 - to show that the Roxbury community is no stranger to losing its people to military duty.
Although Lehnert said, “This memorial day, with heavy hearts, we recall those lost,” he later noted “our great nation has been blessed with generation after generation of patriots,” showing hope for the future of the United States.
Mangano ended the ceremony saying, “Make sure you thank a veteran today.”
Video credit: Linda McMahon