Montclair held its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday at Edgemont Memorial Park. The event, with Mayor Sean Spiller as the master of ceremonies, honored the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have protected and defended the nation.
The Montclair Community Band welcomed the dozens of guests on the sunny and clear day as they gathered around the pond at the park to show their respect for the fallen heroes.
Around 10:10 am, the ceremony started with the Advanced of Colors followed by the Pledge of Allegiance given by Boy Scout Troop No. 12. Next, Cecile Williams sang the national anthem.
Father Giandomenico Flora, from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, gave the invocation and blessing of the wreaths. Representatives of the Montclair Fire Honor Guard, members of the Montclair Township Council, Crawford Crews American Legion Post 251, and Lt. Vincent J. Russo American Legion Post 382 were also at the tribute paying their respects.
Aiden Kwiatkowski, the student speaker and member of Boy Scout Troop No. 12, called for a moment of thought in his turn at the microphone. “Let us not forget that even when America was blatantly oppressive, discriminated, and unjust, millions of the oppressed still fought boldly for the very values that they were denied in their homeland, clinging on to just the tiniest sliver of hope that they may see brighter days,” Kwiatkowski said.
Councilor-at-Large Bob Russo and Michael Perrone, from the Belleville Historical Society, announced the restoration of 90% of the World War I monument located at Watchung Plaza.
Navy Veteran Chief Petty Officer Al B. Dineros invited people to take a moment to reflect on the lives of the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice as he shared the stories of two of his closest shipmates who died while serving their country.
In his remarks, Spiller said: “Often people think of this weekend as a barbecue or a time to get together with family and friends, but it is a time to remember. It is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Montclair Police Honor Guard fired a salute, followed by Scott Freier playing “Taps.” The end of the ceremony was marked by the Retiring of Colors.