Veterans' Memorial Day Ceremony
at City Hall
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
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
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.
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