SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta VFW held Memorial Day ceremonies after the parade. Scouts, Sparta High School Marching Band under the direction of Dr Deborah Gianuzzi, Civil War re-enactors from the 3rd New Jersey Infantry, Sparta Police, township council members and many community members made their way to the bandshell behind the library park for the wreath laying and commemorative program.
Sparta VFW Commander Pete Litchfield welcomed everyone. He introduced Marty Schweighart, former Army chaplain who gave a prayer.
The high school band played.
The Grand Marshal Col. Codispoti addressed the crowd. After thanking the VFW for “granting me the privilege of being grand marshal and thanking her family” she reflected on “the reason for the day.”
She recalled how, as a young child, she would look forward to Memorial Day.
“I learned the meaning of the day more after visiting Colonial Williamsburg and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider,” Codispoti said.
She described the tomb in great detail showing it clearly meant a great deal to her.
“I remember the goosebumps I felt then and even now at the thought of the parents of this unknown soldier,” Codispoti said.
She spoke of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields” how it spoke from the point of view of the fallen soldiers. The poem speaks of poppies, because it was “noted they were the first flowers to grow in the churned up earth after a battle.”
Codispoti told those gathered about the “wall of 645,000 poppies” erected in Washington DC near the Lincoln Memorial. Each of the flowers “represent a service member lost in service to our country since World War I,” emphasizing the number of fallen soldiers.
She explained her parents and grandparents had immigrated to this country. Her father served in the National Guard.
“He spoke with pride about his time in the military, though he never thought I would be in the military,” Codispoti said.
She said her decision to join the military when she wanted to attend medical school.
“I could go into huge debt or go into the Army where my service would have meaning attached,” Codispoti said.
She had cousins and nephews who serve she said. “It has been good to us as for others but we all know we could be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Codispoti explained she spent six years at Brooks Army Medical Center studying internal medicine, cardiology then with a Fellowship as a teacher. Her specialty in endocardiology. She was deployed to Iraq where she was ICU Combat Hospital Director.
She spoke of a specific “massive casualty” event, specially of a soldier who was injured by an IED and again thinking of the parents of that soldier.
“All gave some but some gave all,” Codispoti said. “I ask you to take a moment to remember the reason for the day. Let us pledge to honor and protect our country, to keep it beautiful and safe.”
The Sparta High School marching band played the national anthem.
Schweichert returned to the podium to make additional comments.
“I am glad that when the anthem was played, no one took a knee. This ain’t the NFL,” he said.
He spoke of the strengths of the United States of America. “We can workship as we see fit, raise our children as we see fit, are free to travel from coast to coast and free to vote the way we want.
“May we always remember those who have perished. This is not the giant start of summer or time for sales at the mall. There is always time to visit a cemetery and place a flower.”
Wreaths were laid by Sparta Police officers and cadette, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, 3rd New Jersey Infantry, VFW and township council.
The Civil War 3rd New Jersey Infantry fired a three gun salute and taps was played.