SPARTA, NJ – Missing were the floats, marching band and crowds waving flags but Memorial Day was not forgotten. A small crowd gathered in front of the monument at the Sparta VFW to remember on Monday at noon.
While it was disappointing to have to compromise the usual celebrations, “this is still the greatest country in the world,” Sparta VFW Commander Pete Litchfield said to the approximately 30 people gathered. “It’s kind of strange to be here today without the parade.”
After retired chaplain Marty Schweichardt led the group in prayer, Litchfield continued. He expressed what had brought people to the monument. “It is our responsibility to keep the reason for Memorial Day alive. We have to remember those for whom there is no tomorrow.”
Choosing to leave the political discussion to others, Litchfield said it is important that the leaders we elect only bring us to fight in wars for a good reason; to fight for the oppressed. He said when people join the military they do not know where they will end up. “You join to do good.”
Litchfield told the crowd a Sparta High School alumni who fought in Afghanistan and was still active duty stationed in Colorado had recently taken his life. The young man had been a Spartan wrestler and left behind a 21-year-old wife.
Wreaths and representative flowers were laid by Neil Spidaletto from the Sparta Police Department, Jerry Murphy from Sparta Township, Junior Vice Commander Lawrence McKeon, Birdy Nobile and a scout from Troop 95.
“We are all looking forward to next year when we can enjoy the camaraderie of friends and neighbors,” Litchfield said. He recognized the sacrifice and service of police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, garbage men, janitors, grocery store workers who put on masks and go to work every day.
In his prayer Schewichartd said asked that “whatever justice was denied, whatever comfort was denied, whatever evil was endured are found in the ever loving companionship of God…They served us well. May we be proud to call them our own.”
Litchfield quoted General Patton,“It is foolish and wrong to mourn those who have died rather than to thank God such men lived.”