SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At dusk on Thursday, the lawn of South Plainfield Middle School was transformed into a ‘field of lights,’ the flames from hundreds of candles illuminating three simple words – ‘Thank You Frontliners.’  The following morning, however, gone were the candles, replaced by hundreds of American Flags displayed in a field of red, white, and blue to honor our country’s fallen. 

On the evening of May 21, the South Plainfield School District, in a joint initiative with the borough, held ‘Light the Fight’ to pay tribute to, celebrate, and thank all who have been tirelessly working and serving others during this challenging time. Close to 1,000 candles, each donated by a member of the South Plainfield community, were lit and displayed on the lawn of the Plainfield Avenue school. 

“The glow of the middle school lawn with all of the beautiful candles donated by our community was absolutely breathtaking,” said Lishak, extending thanks to all who donated candles. “It really was no surprise that our South Plainfield community joined together once again to honor those effected by this health crisis and this tribute to our front line heroes was no exception. I can’t thank our community enough for their continued support.” 

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“Once again, the South Plainfield community came together in support of one another and all those who, during this health crisis, are working tirelessly to help others on a daily basis,” said Mayor Matt Anesh, extending thanks to Lishak, the board of education, the council, and all those who helped make ‘Light the Fight’ possible. “The borough was proud to partner with the school district for this tribute to our essential workers. The display in front of the middle school was beautiful and a true testament of South Plainfield’s commitment and support to frontliners during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

“It was one of the best displays of appreciation I have seen. The number of candles decorated and donated is a testament to how our town feels about the frontliners,” said Doug Chapman, president of the South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE). “It was a spectacular display.”

Close to 1,000 candles flickered until approximately 10:30 p.m. and, on the morning of May 22, residents and passerby awoke to see the lawn of the middle school adorned in hundreds of American flags. 

Following some investigative reporting, TAPinto South Plainfield learned that the Chapman and Cassio families personally purchased the flags and, overnight, placed them into the ground as a timely tribute to those who gave their lives for our country. 

“Our families just wanted to do something nice for everyone for Memorial Day weekend. We did it on our own hoping to surprise the town and, honestly, didn’t think the community would find out so quickly and wanted to remain out of the spotlight. It doesn’t belong on us,” said Chapman. “We just wanted to pay tribute and honor our veterans.”

‘“We felt that, during this challenging time, we should not only applaud our first responders and frontline workers, but also focus on the real meaning of Memorial Day and what our flag stands for,” said Tom Cassio, vice president of the SPBOE, noting that neither he nor Chapman were looking for ‘pats on the back’ for the flag display. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all our veterans and, even during this pandemic, it is important for us to remember the true meaning of this weekend and honor those who lost their lives for us and our country.”

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