No parade. No fanfare. No streets lined with cheering crowds of people waving flags. In Roselle Park, on the clear fall morning of the “day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace”, a group of about 50 or so residents of all ages gathered together and took time from what they were doing to do one simple thing – to honor those who came back home after they put their lives on the line to defend our country; the ones who went so we didn’t have to.
In front of the Roselle Park Veterans Memorial Library, boy scouts, senior citizens, students, workers, men, women, friends, and neighbors all waited and just before the bells at the Community United Methodist Church a block away chimed 11 times, the annual service quietly began. Even landscapers down the block stopped their motors and, without any microphone, veteran Mark Tucci began the ceremony, standing in for long-time Veterans Day presenter Paul Endler who was unable to attend due to his recovering from a stroke he suffered earlier this year.
The solemn ceremony proceeded with a prayer by Reverend James Spera, the Pledge of Allegiance, James Vigliotti’s singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner”, a few words from Mayor Joseph Accardi – himself a veteran, the ceremonial placing of a wreath in front of the Veterans Memorial, the playing of ‘Taps’, a moment of silence, a benediction from Reverend Glenn Scheyhing, and a final rendition of “God Bless America” – again by James Vigliotti.
Then, just as it began – without any pageantry – the ceremony was concluded.
As the flags that flew during the entire service were being put away, a question was quietly asked of the men and women who remained in front of the library, “Excuse me, are you a veteran?”
Those who answered ‘yes’ were asked to gather for a photograph to commemorate the day. In the end, in a small American town called Roselle Park, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year – by coincidence or providence – 11 men who served their country by standing watch, stood together and had their photograph taken. It was the least Roselle Park could do to say ‘Thank You’.