Veterans' Memorial Day Ceremony
at City Hall
05/25/15

Welcome to the most confused Memorial Day ceremony I have seen presented in East Orange. The clock in the tower struck nine, but no one was ready because everything had changed from previous years. The ceremony was not to take place at the World War II Memorial, but out in the street of City Plaza.

The Scouts were reformed way down the street by the post office. In most of the United States, the flags are at half-mast from dawn until noon, but not in East Orange. In past years, we had the flag at half-mast until after Taps was played. This year, the flag was largely ignored except by the veterans who knew exactly where it was. Everyone else was busy figuring out where to sit.

The veterans were not all in position out in the hot sun when Taps began to prematurely play on the loud speaker. The veterans all snapped to their feet, faced the full mast flag and saluted. The civilians just went on doing whatever they were doing. Fortunately, I had learned to salute and take photos at the same time, a skill I had picked up in the Marine Corps.

After much waving and shouting down the street towards the Post Office, the scouts finally got the message and marched smartly up City Hall Plaza to the reviewing stand, carrying the wreath. It used to be an all red, white and blue flower wreath, but someone decided to add a few more flower colors from some other country's flags with some red and blue flowers at the bottom.

Perhaps because we weren't in front of the War Memorial that has all these names listed on it, the names of the fallen were read aloud.

Then we were introduced to the "Commander-in-Chief", but it was only the mayor. The person in charge of the confusion is standing at the far left of the picture. Usually I leave at this point, but this year waited to see if the mayor, standing in the cool shade of the podium, would give "honorable mention" or even a moment of silence to the ten (as of this date) citizens of East Orange who had been murdered in 2015. He didn't. Perhaps I expect too much of a mayor who wants to be our next governor.

So I left the veterans sitting in the hot sun as they were briefly thanked and the talk from the podium turned to "it's all about us" and the city council and dignitaries and so on, and so on. The important stuff is on the video.

Memorial Day Ceremony in East Orange, NJ 5//25/15 from James Gerrish on Vimeo.

The EOUMB in the Memorial Day Parade

John Henry's Photos

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