Maplewood salutes veterans on Nov. 11

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The township celebrated Veterans Day with a ceremony at Town Hall on Sunday, Nov. 11, in which the Maplewood Concert Band played patriotic tunes as veteran residents introduced themselves to the town and talked about their service. The Maplewood VFW Post 1010 Honor Guard presented the colors to open the ceremony.

“We honor every person who proudly wore the uniform of the United States armed forces,” Mayor Vic DeLuca said at the event. “We thank all of the veterans for protecting our freedoms and our liberties.”

DeLuca thanked the 20 million veterans who live in the United States, including the 445,000 who live in New Jersey.

“We put red and blue aside, politics isn’t discussed, and we thank them for their service,” he said. “We want to give you all a chance to tell us where and how you served.”

Veterans who live in Maplewood were given the chance to introduce themselves and talk about where and when they served, as well as what branch of the military they were in. Family members and friends also spoke to remember veterans they wanted to recognize.

Rev. Valencia Norman, the pastor at First Presbyterian and Trinity Church in South Orange, as well as the chaplain for the Maplewood Police Department, also spoke at the ceremony.

“Take this joy and remember that there are people who are not here,” Norman said at the event. “Remember those who have served and those who are serving us currently with that kind of joy in your heart.”

The director of the Maplewood Concert Band, Steve Kimmons, was in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1990. He was the deputy commander and then commander of the 8th Air Force Band. Kimmons has been the director of the Maplewood Concert Band for the last five years.

“Playing the service tunes put a lump in my throat,” he said in an interview with the News-Record after the ceremony. “Not just for my own service but for my friends and my family members in the service as well. It’s a great thing, I know sometimes we get hung up on three-day weekends so I’m glad to see people come out and celebrate. It’s always our honor to play at this.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic