By Bailey McGuinn
Microphone issues and cloudy skies couldn’t stop the Memorial and Veterans Day Association of Morristown and Morris Township from honoring veterans, past and present, on the national holiday Monday.
The observance was ushered in by a parade of Little League players, Boy Scouts, the Morristown Marching Colonials and fire trucks, marching from Morris Township to the historic Morristown Green singing patriotic tunes.
The ceremony on the Green began with the Morristown High School Marching Band’s performance of the National Anthem, directed by David Gallagher.
“You know what, I have a big mouth!” joked Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty after multiple microphone failures required him to raise the volume.
“This day constitutes us to stand here in remembrance of all the men and women in our armed forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life for our country and our freedom,” said Dougherty, who also lauded local law enforcement “for being on the front line of what takes place every day in our country, along with teachers and students.”
America’s war dead should be honored every day, he continued, because the country owes its freedom to their sacrifices, from the Revolution to today.
“It just goes on and on,” Dougherty said.
“Their sacrifices offer hope and justice to the world,” said Deacon Tim Holden.
Slideshow photos by Bill Lescohier and Bailey McGuinn:
Morris Township Mayor Peter Mancuso said Memorial Day is a time to put aside our differences–and to give thanks for the servicemen and women whose sacrifices have defended our freedom to disagree.
A moment of silence was held for State Trooper Brian McNally, who died on May 20, 2018, in Pennsylvania in a car crash. The Morristown High School graduate was returning home from serving a duty weekend in the Marine Corps Reserves.
Taps was performed by MHS junior Conor Lenahan, with a rifle salute from the 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery, led by Joe Notowicz, commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 213.
“I consider it a privilege to be here today with all of you to remember our fallen men and women who gave their lives for us,” said George T. Hanley, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.
He also is an advocate for veterans and chairman of Welcome Home Vets of New Jersey, an organization handling close to 750 cases of veterans that need support.
“This is hallowed ground,” Hanley said of the Green.
“This is where one of the critical points of the Revolutionary War was fought. The alliance built here was probably a critical factor in the success of the Revolutionary War, right here on this spot as we sit today. We sit on history. We are very fortunate to live, with all of our flaws, in the greatest country in the world. We are free people, and we can keep it if we will.”
Hanley, a partner in the law firm Weiner Lesniak, also mentioned families of veterans, who often are forgotten.
“They suffer terribly. All they can do is learn how to cope, and that’s where Welcome Home Vets and many, many other groups come in. But you can never do enough.”
“We need to remember not only those who have fallen and earned us our liberties, but those who come back, and their families,” added Ceremonial Officer James Cavanaugh.
The first annual Original Music Fest followed the parade and Memorial day observance, at Ginty Field.
The Original Music School, Morristown Rotary Club, and Recreation Department of Morris Township teamed up to host an afternoon of bands and solo acts, games, activities, and arts and crafts.
Families could visit food trucks, play corn hole, jam to original songs and covers of classics, create patriotic artwork, and write and decorate cards for veterans.
Amidst the fun of Memorial Day, Mayor Dougherty sounded a solemn message.
“This is not just a day to have barbecues in the backyard. It’s not a day to celebrate. It’s a day to be solemn, to remember, to be grateful, and to do something nice for our country and for people every day, not just once a year.
“On behalf of all of the people of Morristown, I thank you all for your service and remember all of those who went before us. God bless you all and God bless America.”
Morristown Green correspondent Bailey McGuinn is a senior at Morristown High School. She will attend the University of Virginia in the fall.