Veterans' Memorial Day Ceremony
05/30/11


Standing wearing red necktie, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, to the right of him is Lucius Bowser, brother of the Mayor and member of the Historical Society of East Orange, Inc. Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

We arrived at City Hall about five minutes before 11:00 AM. The crowd had already begun to gather in the area by the Veteran's Memorial Stone.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The chairs are set up for the Veterans. Most of the rest of those in attendance will stand around the outside area of this small but solemn space.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Mr. Lewis will play the accompaniment music on his keyboard from behind the stone monument.

 


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The Veterans assemble inside City Hall in the rotunda area.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

New Hope Baptist Church Girl Scouts provide the color guard for the American Flag at the start of the Parade of Veterans.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

They are followed by the United States Armed Services Veterans of East Orange who carry with them the wreath to lay at the foot of the memorial.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The Veterans line up on the steps of the monument to those from East Orange who perished in the Second World War. Each year that they appear here, their numbers are fewer and many wonder if they will be here again next year. Last Year's Ceremony is HERE.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

New Hope Baptist Church Girl Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Later in the ceremony, they also sang Taps.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The focal point of the Veterans was the laying of the wreath at the foot of the stone monument as the Girl Scouts sang Taps. After that, the ceremony was taken over by others.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Mayor Robert L. Bowser gave the welcome.


L-R: Quilla E. Talmadge, City Council Chairwoman, Mayor Robert L. Bowser, William Nelson. Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Next comes the introduction of the Grand Marshal, VFW Post 7923 Commander William "Bill" Nelson. The plaque being presented by the Mayor reads in part: "Congratulations - William Nelson - Veteran Grand Marshal - Memorial Day Parade 2011"


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The Mayor presented a similar plaque to the Community Grand Marshal, Cornelia G. Thompson.


Photo by Elijah Goode

New Jersey Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin was present and was asked to make a few remarks on this occasion.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Tiffani R. Greene sang a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace which greatly moved the audience on this day of Remembrance.


Photo by Elijah Goode

Earlier in the program, Evangelist Vincent Robinson gave the invocation, and now at the close he gave the benediction and the ceremony at City Hall was complete.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

I found it necessary to explain to my young photographers the meaning of the flag flying at "half mast" on this day, so we will end this part of the Memorial Day event with that, for those who don't know. It is the custom in the United States to fly the flag at "half mast" until noon. Then the flag is raised to its full height, which was done shortly after this photo was taken. More information HERE.

The video can also be viewed on YouTube HERE.


Photo by Elijah Goode

Before heading over to Columbian Park to continue the Memorial Day city-organized events, my crew and I head down to the other end of City Hall Plaza to check on the Senior Garden. Even from a distance I fear the worst, seeing the litter strewn about.


L-R: Jim Gerrish and Fred Goode, curators of the Interactive Museum of East Orange. Photo by Elijah Goode

Picking up the litter is the easy part. Between my fellow curator and our two photographers, we manage to repair the damage done by thoughtless citizens who treat the City of East Orange as their personal garbage dump, despite the many trash barrels the city provides all along the Plaza.

To see the condition of the Senior Garden as it was last Labor Day go HERE. This is the way I found it in March before I cleaned it. I also cut back the Chrysanthemums and could see that they were green and already beginning to revive and grow again. I didn't count on the City's official weed whacker, however.


L-R: Photographer Elijah Goode, Fred Good, Jim Gerrish hidden by sign. Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The worst damage was done by whomever mows the lawn for the city because this can't be repaired in ten minutes of time. I had left the garden about a week before this photo was taken and the Chrysanthemums around the stone monument were in full growth, the Dusty Millers had recovered and had grown a few inches, and I had some new flowers and bulbs I thought would do well in the garden unattended. But the lawn mower had leveled everything. The Mums and Dusty Millers were gone, no doubt to make it convenient for the grass cutter. The machine had dug the usual furrows that will soon cause erosion once again at the corners of the garden (see foreground).


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

So we sadly left the little garden, clean for now, but sterile; a garden of mostly grass. As Fred pointed out to me, "you can fight city hall, but you can't win." I'll leave the care of this garden to others who have more strength to continue fighting erosion, litter, apathy, blight, and the city-employed weed whacker.


Photo by Elijah Goode

The City's Memorial Day Event continues as a caravan of volunteers drive the Veterans down South Arlington Avenue towards Columbian Park. We get on the end of the line of cars and follow them across town. Fred Goode is our "volunteer driver."


Photo by Elijah Goode

Columbian Park is behind the former Columbian School (name changed to George Washington Carver School c. 2001). On the maps, it is listed as Columbian Playground, but it really is a nice little park and the field house serves as the home of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, and was dedicated by the city for that purpose on November 11th, 2010.


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Photo by Elijah Goode

Today's guests enter the park between the former school (now closed and not used because of mold problems) and the VFW Field house. Games have been set up in the background and on the tables and are already attracting some of the youngsters.


Photo by Elijah Goode

The smell of hot dogs on the charcoal grill entices us further into the park where the chef is already hard at work on supplying free hot dogs to everyone who arrives with a bun in hand.


Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The veterans find the shade and the hot dogs and some bottles of water and they are ready to begin enjoying the day at the park.


Photo by Elijah Goode

The kids are more interested in free cotton candy and pop corn.


Photo by Elijah Goode

There's enough food to supply the citizens of East Orange, who will soon be showing up in crowds to enjoy the Annual Chip Jones All-Star Baseball Game. The game will be covered by the news media, so I will try to add a link to their news and photos when they appear on-line.

LINK to photos by Greg Johnson on the East Orange Navigator Web site.


Photo by Jim Gerrish

After our two young photographers (on the far left) get their hot dogs and drinks, the Mayor (on the right) and everyone else will head to the baseball field (shown in the background) for the big game. We have other plans, however, and have to hurry off to another assignment.

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Contact e-mail: eohistorical@yahoo.com, jimgerrish@yahoo.com, fredgoode@gmail.com