Jefferson Township honored its fallen service members on Monday, May 27, with ceremonies, a parade, gun salutes, and a memorial wreath. It was a picture-perfect day: blue skies and temperatures warm enough to feel like summer.

Lake Hopatcong

By Ulla Vinkman, Contributing Photographer

A ceremony at the American Legion Post 245 on Espanong Road featured addresses by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Lunoff of Picatinny Arsenal and Mayor Eric Wilsusen.

Attendees included firefighters from Picatinny and Jefferson’s Company No. 2, the Jefferson Township Rescue Squad, Boy Scout Troop 111, Girl Scouts, the high school marching band, and many residents.

Following a gun salute by members of the Post signifying the end of the ceremony, various community groups lined up for a parade. The procession made its way down East Shore Drive to Brady Road, ending on Brady Bridge. Former mayor Fran Slayton, current mayor Wilsusen, and Lunoff dropped a wreath into the waters of Lake Hopatcong near the new fire boat, Defender 2. Firefighters offered a water salute during the ceremony.

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The observance at Milton’s American Legion Post 423 started with a rifle squad’s three-round firing of M-14 rifles. Local scouts from Troop 49 raised from half staff the three flags that adorn the Legion grounds, followed by a trumpeter playing taps.

Guest orator and linguist Colonel Hector Gonzalez of Picatinny Arsenal delivered a speech on the history of Memorial Day. His talk referenced a soldier who sacrificed his life to ensure that radio communications were delivered to his comrades during the attack on Omaha Beach during World War II. The audience listened intently as the speaker described the soldier, gravely wounded, who rejected medical help and instead ran into the fray of Nazi bullets to retrieve vital radio components. The communication specialist’s sacrifice of his life exemplifies all military members who died in service to our country, said Gonzalez.

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