Celebrating the ‘most important holiday’

Courtesy of Mantua Township
Veterans march in the 2023 Memorial Day parade. The event is presented by Mantua and Wenonah.

Mantua will host its annual Memorial Day service in conjunction with Wenonah to honor those who’ve given their lives during America’s conflicts.

The Memorial Day service – on Monday, May 27 – will kick off at the intersection of Mantua and Marian avenues in Wenonah at 8:45 a.m. The parade will feature uniformed honor guards from Mantua’s VFW post and Wenonah’s American Legion Post 192.

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It will also feature music performed by Clearview Regional High School’s marching band and a parade of kids on bikes decorated with America’s colors.

“Our parade is a collaborative effort between Wenonah and Mantua,” said the township’s Veterans Commission chairman Joe Heitman. “We usually have a pretty good crowd. Parents come out to support their kids and I would say we usually have 50 to 100 people total show up.”

The parade will make stops at a cemetery in each town before moving on to the Mantua municipal building at about 10:30 a.m. Speakers will include Martin Valdez, of the Mantua VFW, who will also perform a song; and Deputy Mayor Pete Scirrotto.

Heitman will present a plaque to the family of the late John Gellenthin. Reminding people and remembering the true meaning of Memorial Day should be extremely important to not just Mantua, but every municipality, in Heitman’s view.

“If you talk to most veterans, they’ll say that Memorial Day is the most important holiday of the year,” he explained. “For the honor guards, their day (Memorial Day) starts at 8 a.m. so they can get ready. When our ceremony ends, their day doesn’t end, since they go to the service in Jericho.

“Our guys won’t be done until about 3 p.m. – and they can finally have a hamburger.”

Heitman wants people to appreciate the true meaning of what has become a three-day kickoff of summer and why.

“For those that take advantage of the three-day weekend, and there’s nothing wrong with that, take a few minutes and remember those who gave their lives for our country,” he implored.

“It’s important to remember them, it’s why we do these events.”

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