WEST ORANGE, NJ — The township celebrated Veterans Day with a ceremony outside Town Hall on Nov. 11, honoring township residents who have served in the United States Armed Forces. On the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, former members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard came together in War Memorial Park in front of police headquarters to share stories about their service.
“More than four million people served in the first world war,” Joseph Brennan, who hosted the ceremony, said at the event. “Many of them were immigrants or the sons and daughters of immigrants and they served faithfully. Over 350,000 African-Americans served in the war.”
Brennan, a veteran of the U.S. Army, talked about the 17 streets in West Orange that are named after soldiers who were killed during World War I.
“It’s tragic that we have to suffer wars, but they begot good,” he said. “It’s my hope that we don’t have to be in a war in the future and that our children don’t have to take up arms like we did.”
Pastor Doug Adams, from the United Presbyterian Church, served in the United States Navy. He opened the ceremony with a prayer and by thanking the veterans in attendance.
Colleen Blasi, veterans chairwoman of the BPOE Elks Lodge 1590, also spoke at the ceremony.
“Words are not enough,” she said. “Please thank them for the service that they gave.”
The 102nd Cavalry Regiment of Essex County presented and dedicated wreaths in honor of Gold Star Families, who have lost a member of their family while serving in the military.
Msgr. Michael Kelly, president of Seton Hall Prep, spoke to end the ceremony.
“Thank those with the desire and the will to fight for us,” he said. “And bless those who are here with us and those who are serving us today.”
Photos by Amanda Valentovic