Memorial Day is not just the unofficial start to summer, it serves as a day to remember the brave men and women who served our country and who have since passed. A service to do so is scheduled for May 27 at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park behind the Washington Township police station.
This year, a tribute will be made in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy known as “D-Day.”
The ceremony begins with an address from the mayor, followed by a speech from guest speaker retired Air Force Col. Michael Unterkofler.
Bob Abbott, the chair of the veterans affairs advisory board, said the wind ensemble will play while all of the military branches are honored. This is followed by the police honor guard performing a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”
The veterans affairs advisory board boasts a wall in the park with plaques of deceased veterans from Washington Township. Two new plaques will be added at this Memorial Day service, one for Thomas Murphy and one for John Sklemcar. Both are World War II veterans. Since the wall’s inception in 1988, it has 113 plaques. Applications for the wall can be found in the clerk’s office.
Remembering and celebrating veterans who have lost their lives is paramount, according to Abbott.
“It’s important because all these men and women, especially on Memorial Day, we honor them because they give the supreme sacrifice,” he said. “We honor all veterans who have passed on. They keep the country free. We have to make sure the kids and adults know that and respect it. We wouldn’t have the freedoms we have if it weren’t for the people who served.”
Abbott, an eight-year Army veteran, served as a guided missile technician. This service led him to work in a similar industry in Cape Canaveral, Fla., after his time in the Army. Now retired, Abbott chairs the veterans advisory board, putting the needs of veterans at the forefront by assisting them with veterans benefits as well as planning the Memorial Day and Veterans Day services.
With school being closed on Memorial Day, Abbott believes this to be a great opportunity for the family to come out and learn, grow, remember and pay respects to the fallen.
“Schools are closed, which is great. By being closed, the families can come out and see what it is and talk to their kids about it,” he said. “People should come to show respect, number one. Number two, to make them aware that these things were done.”
For more information about the veterans advisory board, visit twp.washington.nj.us.