Deptford Township hosted a series of events in and around Veterans Memorial Park in Oak Valley on May 28 to honor men and women who gave their lives to defend the American people and the values they hold dear.
“What it’s about is honoring the ultimate sacrifice of all of our heroes, our soldiers, who died defending our freedom,” said Mayor Paul Medany the day before the official holiday.
“That’s what this weekend is all about.”
Things kicked off at noon with wreaths laid at the Buddy Powell Memorial in front of Oak Valley Elementary School. The site is dedicated to Elmer “Buddy” Powell, a Deptford resident killed in action in 1966, during the Vietnam War. Veterans paid their respects to him with salutes.
Next up was a parade that included the Deptford High School marching band; NJROTC students; police and fire representatives; and kids who rode bikes decked out in American flags and colors, each of whom got a trophy commemorating their part in the parade.
Medany stressed teaching kids about the importance of Memorial Day.
“That’s another very important part of observing Memorial Day, is to teach our young children what this is all about,” he explained. “We want them to come out here, hear the speeches and meet our veterans.”
The parade concluded at Veterans Memorial Park and was followed by a service for other lost military members, along with Powell.
“It is an honor to participate in the event and to honor Powell and all the men and women that have fought for this country,” the mayor said.
A small rifle squad shot three rounds and there was a five-bell salute at the park. Vets saluted the small memorial there and also placed wreaths.
The holiday events were followed by a barbecue of burgers, hot dogs and refreshments.