SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Inclement weather did not stop the South Plainfield Middle School community from coming together Thursday for its annual Memorial Day Ceremony to honor and remember those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. 

Initially planned to take place outdoors on the school field but relocated into the gym due to the rain, the Memorial Day Ceremony was attended by local veterans and American Legion Chaumont Post No. 243 members Angelo DeAndrea, Michael Texera, and Richard Doerr as well as members of South Plainfield’s fire and police departments and representatives from both the borough council and board of education. 

This year’s ceremony, organized by history teacher Joe Blondo, featured patriotic musical selections performed by the 8th Grade Band and Chorus along with a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper Cliff Roberts, courtesy the McCriskin-Gustafson Funeral Home. Additionally, as in previous years, there was a wreath dedication honoring the country’s fallen heroes. 

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“We’d like to thank Mr. Blondo. If it wasn't for him, this great program would not happen,” Assistant Principal Kelly Richkus in her welcoming remarks. 

Principal Roger Vroom spoke about how Memorial Day is more than just the unofficial start to summer, a day off of school, and a chance for retailers to hold sales. “Memorial Day was originally referred to as Declaration Day and it has been observed since the end of the Civil War. This longstanding tradition of remembrance shows that our nation has always been loyal to men and women who laid down their lives for our freedoms,” said Vroom. 

He asked the students to remember the words of President Harry S. Truman who said ‘Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women and their service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.’ The principal also urged them to, at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, pause for one minute in observance of a National Moment of Remembrance and ‘think about the fallen heroes and…what their sacrifices have meant for our freedoms.’ 

Taking the to podium, South Plainfield Councilman Derryck White also suggested the students reflect and remember those fallen during the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. Memorial Day. He urged them to set an alarm on their phones and set aside the time to ‘recognize, honor, and celebrate the men and women who have given their lives.’ 

“My hope is that each of you will stand still and recognize the great sacrifices that allow us to be in this building today; allow us to walk safely through the streets of South Plainfield; allow us to live in a country where freedom reigns; and allow us to continue to remember the sacrifices of those that came before us,” said White.

“We continue to lose heroes everyday in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and in military training acts around the world... From the American Revolution to our current operation against terrorism, one million American men and women have made the extreme sacrifice. We honor all of them… they died so that we can continue to cherish the things that we love – freedom, country, and family,” Blondo told the students, adding, “That is why we are gathered here for Memorial Day… to honor the member of our fallen warriors who have given everything for our country. We also reminded that each generation, great men and women will always step forward to take the oath of allegiance as members of our Armed Forces, willing to fight and, if necessary, die, to save our freedoms…”

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