View video of the full ceremony below text.

WESTFIELD, NJ — Church bells rang. The bugle played. The mayor gave a speech.

A solemn Memorial Day ceremony was made even more solemn with no audience in attendance at the town’s World War I monument Monday.

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“Let this day be a day of commemoration and honor for those who sacrificed their lives in order to give us liberty and security,” said Deacon Keith Gibbons, the Westfield Police Department chaplain.

During the ceremony held at 7 a.m., Mayor Shelley Brindle thanked the public for not attending in person — a means to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to thank the public for staying home today, which is something I never would have imagined saying,” Brindle said.

She detailed historic sacrifices made by Westfield residents and war heroes, including Martin Wallberg, for whom the town’s American Legion post is named.

Wallberg grew up on South Avenue and while the United States remained neutral during World War I, he enlisted in the Canadian army, Brindle said.

“Wounded in action, Martin recovered and went back into service,” she said. “On Nov. 10, 1917, while being the first to carry the American flag over the top, Private Wallberg was killed in action in Belgium when he was just 19 years old.”

Click here to read the full text of the speech.

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