WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I at the town's annual Memorial Day Parade Monday, with veteran Teddy Grossi serving as Grand Marshal.
During the opening ceremony at the town’s WWI monument, Allan Betau, past commander of the Westfield American Legion Martin Wallberg Post #3, called the day a celebration of those men and women who gave their lives so that we can live our lives in freedom.
Bob D’Arecca, chaplain for Post #3, offered the opening prayer and benediction.
The Westfield High School Chorale Group, conducted by John Brzozowski sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Mayor Shelley Brindle spoke about her own Gold Star family.
Kerry Stubs sang an a cappella rendition of “God Bless America.”
Dr. Ted Schlosberg from the New Jersey Workshop for the Arts played “Echo Taps” with his ensemble, made up of members of the Westfield Community Band and the Westfield High School Band. B
Betau announced that, as a special tribute to veterans, Dr. Schlosberg would like to create an ensemble with veterans. Any veteran who plays an instrument or who would like to learn to play can contact the NJWA to schedule for free lessons, he said.
Wreaths were sponsored by the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion. Larry Sheldon, a Westfield resident, sponsored a wreath from the U.S. Coast Guard, which was presented by members of the Girl Scouts. The Westfield PAL and the Westfield Boosters also presented wreaths honoring veterans.
Betau explained that streets in town with gold stars on them represent the 18 Westfield men who died serving in WWI and a series of bell tolls echoing from the bell tower of the First United Methodist Church was rung for those men. Jack Panosh, Westfield bell master and town clock curator, coordinated the ringing.
Gun volleys were performed by members of “The Fighting 69th Regiment New York State Volunteers.” The 69th was the first regiment of the famed Irish Brigade of the Union Army during the Civil War and, today, members wear authentic uniforms and carry equipment to accurately portray the soldiers as they appeared in 1862.
Grand Marshal Grossi, with a contingent of veterans, led the parade, directed by Barbara Verdic. The parched north on East Broad and ended at Fairview Cemetery where a final ceremony by the American Legion at the Civil War section took place.
Participating in the parade were Mayor Brindle, members of the town council and Westfield school board, the Westfield High School marching band, the Westfield Community Band, the fire department, police department, department of public works and several organizations, including the Westfield Neighborhood Council, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
The parade route made a brief stop to salute three sailors who had lived at 3 Stanley Oval at different times: George J. Morgan Jr., a Navy pilot who was missing in action off Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands; Richard Lagreze, a lieutenant who commanded the minesweeper U.S.S. Minivet in 1945; and William J MacRichie, who served on the U.S.S Price.
A plaque was recently installed on Stanley Oval honoring Lt. Morgan for his service with the inscription “A COOL, RESOURCEFUL AND HIGHLY COURAGEOUS PILOT.”
After the parade, the American Legion Post #3 held a free barbecue for all.