BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The township of Bloomfield held its annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday morning, May 30. As is tradition, the parade began at Brookside Park and traveled down Broad Street to a reviewing stand opposite the Civic Center. High temperatures arrived early to the area but did not lessen the excitement of antsy children, flag-waving parents and shop owners.
After two years of caution, people were ready for normalcy; however, public attendance around the reviewing stand appeared down from previous years. Additionally, official declarations by podium speakers were strikingly spare. Mayor Michael Venezia did not speak, nor did any other township official; extraordinarily, no religious representative spoke. But two speakers performed well. First was the parade grand marshal, former Bloomfield Mayor James Gasparini, a World War II and Korean War veteran.
“We pause to give our respect to all those veterans who fought in the trenches and on the seas,” he said.
Gasparini, who served as mayor from 1990 to 1993, said that whenever he was deployed, his thoughts were of returning home to Bloomfield to care for his parents.
“With deepest gratitude, we thank our fallen comrades who didn’t make it home,” he concluded.
The second speaker was Allen Garth, the commander of VFW Post 711 on Broughton Avenue, who gave the veterans address. He read the poem “Just a Common Soldier,” by A. Lawrence Vaincourt, which tells of an old soldier speaking of wartime exploits that only other veterans could understand while unknowing listeners dismissed him: “If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise, / Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.”
The ceremony concluded with a walk to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the laying of a wreath, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
Photos by Daniel Jackovino