Memorial Day 2016: Remembrance In A Small Town

Today’s Memorial Day parade was canceled due to a forecast that predicted thunderstorms. Needless to say, there was no rain. There were a few who complained about the annual parade which came back in 2014 after being absent for half a decade. It showcased local organizations and brought neighbors and friends out for the unofficial start of summer.

Still, the residents of a square-mile town gathered at 11 in the morning to honor the true meaning of the day. Beyond the hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecues, parades, trips to the beach, or a day off from work or school, today was meant to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces in defense of our country. More than 140 years ago, Decoration Day – as it was known back then – was established as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.

Inside the Casano Community Center, a standing room only audience listened as its town leader, Mayor Carl Hokanson read the names of 44 men and one woman from Roselle Park who died in service of their country. A bell was rung for each name, as if to signify the sound of sacrifice to break through the silent passage of time.

The 11 names read of those who perished during The Great War were:

  • Samuel Damiano
  • Pietro DiPalma
  • Clarence V. Fanning
  • Edward A. Fanning
  • Joseph E. Macedo
  • Charles S. Montgomery
  • Thomas Paulson, Jr.
  • S. J. Peluso
  • Bertram A. Rowe
  • Oscar W. Swanson
  • John E. Williams

World War II had 31 residents of the borough give their lives for their country:

  • Walter T. Byram
  • Samuel Capiello
  • Carl F. Cooke
  • Robert M. Corwin
  • Joseph T. Donahue
  • Percy Donak
  • Kenneth H. Flath
  • Elliott Goodman
  • Robert J. Jones
  • Vernon J. Kempson
  • Alfred A. Keimig
  • Paul E. Kessler
  • Charles M. Mooney
  • Charles G. Norberg
  • Helen M. Otto
  • Jack W. Ragland
  • Lee C. Ragland
  • John H. Reindel, Jr.
  • William W. Roberts
  • John A. Salinardo
  • Richard F. Selk
  • Frank J. Stallone
  • Arthur W. Swanson
  • John G. Swanson
  • John J. Szostak
  • Michael J. Tirone
  • Raymond L. Turner
  • Eric Whittman
  • Glenn W. Williams
  • William H. Wolfskeil
  • Andrew Z. Yeaple

The Vietnam War Conflict had two names called in remembrance from Roselle Park:

  • Roger J. Spence
  • Roger M. Worshineski

Finally, one name was called for the Afghanistan War from the borough:

  • Paul A. Sweeney

After the Grand Marshal James Vigliotti – himself a WWII veteran – led the crowd in singing “God Bless America” and “Amazing Grace” was played on a bagpipe, the carrying of the wreaths was conducted by members of the Girl Scouts Troop 40998, Boy Scouts Troop 56, and Cub Scouts Pack 116. Walking from the Casano Center to the Roselle Park Veterans Memorial Library, the wreaths were placed in front of the library memorial in solemn quiet dignity.

In a moment of unrehearsed reverence, two young men – Boy Scouts – each separately gave thanks to the people behind the names on the plaque wear they laid wreaths; one saluted and the other offered a quiet moment of prayer. Without a large parade or streets lined with spectators, the one-square mile town of Roselle Park once again honored those who gave their last full measure.