IRVINGTON, NJ — Earlier this year, Pastor Fred Mulligan, chaplain for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1941 in the Camptown section of Irvington, noted during the town’s Memorial Day observance that the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is “Memorial Day is for those that died, spilled their blood for the country so that we can be free and pray in any type of religion that we want to without being persecuted. On Veterans Day, you honor those that are living and served.”
North Ward Councilman David Lyons is a Navy veteran who said he agrees with Mulligan’s observation, but also disagrees with it.
“I agree, in the sense that Memorial Day is for those that died,” Lyons said on Tuesday, Nov. 17. “But Veterans Day is for those that are living and those that died because I can’t celebrate those that are living without thinking about those that died. We held our Veterans Day ceremony in Civic Square in front of the Fire Department this year.”
Lyons acknowledged that holding the ceremony in front of the Fire Headquarters on Wednesday, Nov. 11, was a change from the Servicemen’s Clubhouse on Springfield Avenue, where commemorative and memorial services for veterans have taken place in the past.
Lyons said he doesn’t believe that change in venue had anything to do with the plans reportedly in the works to sell the old Servicemen’s Clubhouse — which is no longer in use — to a developer who wants to build a Taco Bell restaurant on the site.
Lyons said this wasn’t an issue Wednesday, Nov. 11, adding, “everything is pushed aside for Veterans Day. The ceremony this year was short, but it was good. We had the school band and the people from the JROTC and the commander of the VFW Post 1941 spoke.”
But Lyons said, “The thing I really liked is that all the businesses in town get together and always donate to support Veterans Day.”
“They always give things, especially food for the veterans and the crowd and officials that come out to celebrate the vets on Veterans Day,” Lyons said. “It’s their own little way to show that they appreciate the vets. There will always be a Veterans Day in the township, no matter who the mayor is or who the council is, just like there will always be a Memorial Day.”
Mayor Tony Vauss said that while this year’s ceremony took place in front of the Irvington Fire Department, everything else about the annual event was the same as it always has been.
“This is a day of remembrance for those who were and are willing to give their lives for our country and freedom,” Vauss said on Wednesday, Nov. 11. “A wreath was laid on the monument located on Springfield Avenue, just like we do every year. Refreshments were served at the firehouse after the program, the same as we always do, and we invited our residents and visitors to join us in showing appreciation to our veterans.”
Mulligan said it’s good to be appreciated. He said that although he has complained about the commercialization of Veterans Day and Memorial Day in the past, he didn’t have anything negative to say about the trend of businesses honoring veterans.
“I noticed that it was more commercialized and a lot more stores and businesses paid more respect to veterans than they have in the past,” Mulligan said on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
“Meineke on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood was giving out free oil changes to veterans on Veterans Day. The guy was named Vinny and he was so nice and he did like 120 oil changes. He said he has a lot of respect for veterans, because his father and his grandfather are veterans. He lost a lot of money by giving away oil changes like that, but he did a really nice thing for the veterans. There was a lot more respect this year than there has been in the past. A lot more young people involved, too.”