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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Memorial Day in Rutherford 2021

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credit: Charles Binder

As with most events and gatherings this year, Memorial Day services were held without crowds and there was not a Memorial Day Parade this year. However, the American Legion made certain that they found a way to memorialize those who lost their lives fighting for America's freedom.

The first Memorial Day service began at the Union Ave Bridge where Bob Hansen spoke about remembering all military members lost at sea. Charles Gunn, Commander of Post 453, led those gathered on the bridge in prayer. The ceremony concluded with a heart or hand salute as Taps was played by Alex Bronico and a wreath was thrown into the Passaic River.

From there, the Rutherford Veterans Alliance members congregated at Sunset Park. John Krysenowski, Commander of Veteran Foreign War, Post 227, Commandant Colin Hanley, and members of the Honor Guard of the Marine Corps Leagues Air Land, and Sea Detachment 710 were also present. Members of the Mayor and Council, Chief John Russo of the Rutherford Police Department, RPD Officers, Rutherford First-Aid Volunteer Ambulance Corps members, the Scouts, and William Galloway of Murray Post 453 also participated. Acting Mayor Mark Goldsack spoke and explained, “Memories and the emotions that accompany this day always remain the same.” As the solemnity of the day was expressed, Charles Gunn led those in attendance in prayer to remember all of those servicemen and servicewomen lost. Bob Hansen read short biographies of many of the men and women from Rutherford who passed away during the various wars. He explained that nineteen military service members were lost during World War I, seventy-eight during World War II, three during the Korean War, eight during the Vietnam War, and one in the War of Terror.

“Today we join together in mind and spirit to memorialize local veterans,” Krysenowski explained.

Bill Lillis, Grand Marshal

For twenty years, Bill Lillis was in charge of the Memorial Day Parade. Forty-six years ago, Bill was a Crypto Maintenance Technician with the Air Force. This year Lillis was named the Grand Marshal of the Memorial Day Parade. Hansen explained what a vital role Lillis played in planning and organizing the Rutherford Memorial Day parades. Lillis laughed as he told those in attendance that he was "once the person who told people where to stand in the parade, but this year I’m being told where to stand.”

Council members: Thomas Mullahey, Stephanie McGowan, Ray Guzman and Mark Goldsack (Acting Mayor)

Bob Hansen ended the service by announcing a heart or hand salute while Taps was played. Charles Gunn said a final prayer.

To watch both services, click here.

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