ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury’s annual Memorial Day Parade commenced under clear skies Monday morning, an unusual boon for the event which has - in past years - been cancelled due to harsh weather.
Hosted by Roxbury Township and Kenvil VFW Post 2833, the parade began in the parking lot of the Lincoln/Roosevelt School, then proceeded to Main Street where there was a military salute at the Presbyterian Church cemetery.
The procession featured sport and antique cars, emergency response vehicles, bagpipe players, Scouts, sports teams, town officials and representatives of other groups.
The Roxbury High School Marching Gaels waved red, white and blue flags and played patriotic tunes as members of VFW Post 2388 members marched down Eyland Avenue in uniform. Marchers threw candy to hundreds of cheering onlookers.
The parade entered Horseshoe Lake and ended at the War Memorial on the “island” for a service.
The service was in part dedicated to this year’s grand marshal of the parade veteran Roxbury Firefighter Lou Bizzari. Born and raised in Roxbury, he was also a U.S. Army corporal who fought in the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star, two Oak Leaf Combat Clusters and a Combat Infantry Badge.
Since, he has dedicated a lifetime to service for various active volunteer organizations in Roxbury, where he has lived with his wife for over sixty years.
Following Bizzari’s story was a memorial ceremony by VFW Post 2388 and led by Commander John Lehnert.
“As we enjoy living in the land of the free and the home of the brave,” said Lehnert, “We must remind Americans that there is no freedom without bravery, and those we honor today were brave when it counted the most.”
The service also featured a speech by Roxbury Mayor Robert DeFillippo.
“We live in the greatest nation on earth,” said DeFillippo. “We are great because of the sacrifices made by so many brave men and women. We will never forget their memory, and let us ensure everyday that their sacrifices were not in vein.”
Wendy Notari, a Roxbury High School graduate, also spoke about a Maryland-based organization called Warrior Canine Connection, which provides free service dogs to disabled veterans. Each of the dogs is named after a veteran who has lost their life. Golden retrievers George and Ronnie sat patiently as Notari spoke.
The service wrapped up with a closing patriotic song performed by Roxbury High School’s Classic Sounds Quartet. The solemn tune of taps, pronounced proudly by a trumpeter from Roxbury High School, called the patriotic event to a close.
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