‘Some gave all’: Mantua marks Memorial Day

Photos by Joseph Metz/The Sun
Kids participating in the Memorial Day event’s bike decorating contest await their turn to join the parade.
Relatives of late Vietnam veteran John Gellenthin posed with Mayor Robert Zimmerman, who presented the family with a township proclamation in his honor.

Mantua hosted its annual Memorial Day service and parade on May 27 to honor those who paid the ultimate price for their service.

The parade kicked off in Wenonah, where its American Legion Post 192 and members of the Mantua VFW formed a color guard and led the parade, which also featured Clearview Regional High School’s Marching Band, township Cub Scouts and the police.

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When the parade made its way to J. Mason Tomlin Elementary Schoo, several kids participating in the bike decorating contest joined the parade, which concluded at the township municipal building. There, the service began with Clearview’s band performing the national anthem; they played “America The Beautiful” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag” throughout the service.

Mantua VFW Post Commander Martin Valdez then took to the podium and sang to the crowd with his own rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All,” a song about someone who gave their life for the country.

“In lieu of a speech, I’ve chosen to do something else,” said Valdez. “This is a song I heard last year that is very fitting for today.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Deputy Mayor Pete Scirrotto.

“Memorial Day for a lot of folks is the unofficial start of summer, barbeques, school-age children are starting to get antsy with the last days of school coming to a close,” he noted. “But I wanted to take a minute to say why we are here today. Every year, there is an Army-Navy game, and each of these respective militaries would place commercials on TV. Some of them will be poking a little fun at each other, but one of the commercials hit home. It could make you cry.

“It’s on a naval ship,” Scirrotto added, “and sailors, pilots and special forces are in a semi-circle. And behind them were a group of children. It finishes with, ‘To get to them (the children), they have to go through us.’ As of today, 1,100,000 men and women of every branch of the service have died in the line of duty.

“They were the ‘to get to them, they have to go through us.'”

Mayor Robert Zimmerman named the first- second- and third-place winners of the bike decorating contest, three winners in each grade from pre-K through fourth grade. He also presented a plaque and proclamation to the family of the late Donald John Gellenthin, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam by assisting with the evacuation of personnel from the country. He passed away from cancer in the early 2000s.

The proclamation, Zimmerman read, honored Gellenthin for his “exemplary service, and with grateful recognition for his unwavering dedication in defending the United States of America.”

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