SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Yesterday morning, with face masks affixed to their heads, the Township of Springfield held a Memorial Day Service unlike any in recent memory.
Gone were the parade, hot dogs and large crowds gathered under a sweltering sun at Veterans Park, Mountain Avenue and Jonathan Dayton High School. Instead, a smaller and socially distant crowd took part in the honoring of veterans who gave their last full measure of devotion to their country.
This year' ceremony was headed by Honorary Grand Marshal Samuel Furner. Furner, a Springfield resident who joined the Army in 1953, serving a stint in Germany before moving to town in the 1970s. He said that even though everything was changed, he was still honored to be the marshall.
"It's an honor to be grand marshall," Furner said. "And I enjoyed when I was asked. I'd like to thank everybody that had a hand in picking me, and it doesn't matter [about] the parade."
Following the invocation, pledge of allegiance and national anthem, Mayor Chris Capodice read the town's annual proclamation that honors the day as Memorial Day.
For Capodice, the opportunity to even have a service was something he was thankful for, and credited the organization team behind it for putting together the ceremony in such an unusual situation.
"I think we were very fortunate enough that we were able to pull off a service to honor those who have fallen in this unprecedented time," Capodice said.
He continued, saying "I appreciate everything that went in to putting this smaller program together. Geri Kazimar and Linda Donnelly did a excellent job, along with Gerry Gebauer and we appreciate everyone's support and cooperation and patience as we try to return to as normal as possible under these circumstances.I think today was a great day."
Kazimar, one of the main organizers of the ceremony each year noted that there were some obvious differences from years past, but at the core of it, the veterans, and the drive to honor those who have fallen, remains.
"Really, I think it was just as important today to do a ceremony as anything," Kazimar said. "We really do this to honor the men and women that served. Not just the ones that are fallen too, but we remember them the most. I just think it's important to recognize [the veterans]."
Kazimar also thanked residents for attending and viewing the ceremony online.