For the annual Memorial Day Celebration Irvington High School football field, Mayor Tony Vauss joined forces with the Municipal Council, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department Director Donald Malloy, the Fire and Police Divisions, Superintendent Neely Hackett, members of Camptown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1941, and the Irvington High School ROTC members.
All marched in procession from the field through D. Bilal Beasley Square and up Springfield Avenue to Memorial Park for the annual wreath-laying ceremony that caps off the township’s Memorial Day observance.
Camptown VFW Post 1941 Chaplain Fred Murray once remarked that the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that Veterans Day is for active duty and retired men and women who served their country in the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, whereas Memorial Day is specifically for those who made the greatest sacrifice: giving their lives for their country.
Murray’s fellow vets agreed, including those celebrating in East Orange’s annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 27, at the same time as Irvington’s event.
Veterans who came out to celebrate in both Irvington and East Orange were joined by Mayor Ted Green, the East Orange City Council members and the city’s children and adults of all ages who lined Main Street and filled City Hall Plaza, where the reviewing stand was located.
“I served in the Army,” said Arthur Wright, a former Essex County Freeholder, county deputy clerk and East Orange Board of Education president, at the event. “I think it’s great. We had a lot of people come out and I think it’s a great event.”
Wright is also a member of VFW Post 7923 and he accompanied his post members, including Air Force veteran Fred Shaw, to the parade. Shaw agreed with Wright that the parade was great.
“It’s great for the community to share everybody’s experience and have fun,” said Shaw on Monday, May 27. “Serving your country is not about politics. I just want all veterans to enjoy this day, which is reserved for us.”
Both Shaw and Wright, who served during the Vietnam War era, said they are proud of their service and don’t regret it at all. Deacon Ben Shingles, of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, agreed and also had a message for fellow veterans, whether they came out to this year’s annual Memorial Day parade event or not.
“I’m an Army veteran, too,” said Shingles on Monday, May 27. “I want to say, ‘Thank you for your service’ to all my fellow vets. I also want to thank the city of East Orange for having this parade.”
East Orange 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman was also on hand at the reviewing stand in City Hall Plaza on Monday, May 27, and she also happens to be a member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, too. So it might not be a coincidence that she wound up standing next to Shingles that day.
“He’s a county committee person for the 5th Ward, 9th District and also my deacon at my church,” said Holman on Monday, May 27. “I thank all of those who served, so that we can have the liberties that we have. God bless them and God keep them and keep on doing what they’re doing, because our great service members are here for us.”