GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge observed Memorial Day on Monday, May 27. Following a parade down Ridgewood Avenue, a crowd, smaller than those in recent years, gathered in the area between Ridgewood Avenue School and the library.
The emcee was Jim O’Grady, of the Kiwanis Club of Glen Ridge, which sponsors the event. A picnic was to follow at the train station. O’Grady welcomed everyone to the service of remembrance. The service contained the laying of wreaths, by Boy and Girl Scouts, at the war memorials.
“Many of the people we are remembering lived in the same houses as we do,” O’Grady said, “attended the same schools and played at the same playgrounds.”
The invocation was given by Rusty Hicks, the interim reverend of the Glen Ridge Congregational Church.
“We remember those who have laid down their lives for us,” he said. “Remembering those from the past, the firefighters, the police, the teachers.”
He said God’s wish is that we live in a harmonious way.
Mayor Stuart Patrick gave a Memorial Day speech about caretakers — people who have voluntarily cared for the gravesites of American military personnel. He said the practice began following the Civil War, in the southern states, for Union soldiers, and continues elsewhere today.
Patrick read from a letter received in 1992 by former Glen Ridge Mayor Carolyn Bourne. It was from a young man in the Netherlands caring for the grave of a Glen Ridge soldier, 2nd Lt. Lewis Dundon.
Following the ceremony, in a telephone interview, Patrick said only 60 percent of American war dead are returned to the U. S.
“Our dead were buried in cemeteries over there,” he said. “The Navy buries at sea.”
The graves of many soldiers cannot be found, he said, and there were also mass interments.
Patrick said Borough Administrator Michael Rohal had the letter from the Netherlands man. The mayor said he felt that caring for the graves of foriegn soldiers had come full-circle from its origins following the Civil War.
“It’s comforting to know that people are looking after the people left behind,” he said.
Following a benediction by Hicks, people were free to attend the picnic.
The full text of Mayor Patrick’s speech appears today in this newspaper.