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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jul 01, 2017

Colts Neck on Parade for Memorial Day

By Nicholas Deckmejian

On May 29, the Memorial Day Parade returned to Colts Neck, rekindling the tradition of coming together to honor veterans and express some good old-fashioned American pride. Having been bamboozled out of the parade last year due to the monsoon that never was, the township approached this year with a steadfast determination to make sure Colts Neck was able to pay their due respect on this Memorial Day, rain or shine. It was obvious that members of the community shared this commitment because, despite the less than ideal weather conditions, people threw on their rain jackets, armed themselves with umbrellas, and returned to their posts alongside Heyers Mill to watch the beloved parade.

The honor of leading the parade was given to the Colts Neck Police Department’s newly promoted Sergeant Daniel DeVito, who waved to the crowd as he set the pace from his police vehicle.

Marching behind were ambulances and their crew of smiling first aiders, a caravan of shiny firetrucks blowing their sirens, massive tractors, vintage automobiles, and a stampede of children tossing candy; all coming together as a marathon of memories.

Everyone gathered at Memorial Park for the day’s ceremony to begin. Father Jeff Lee gave the invocation, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, and Daisies, followed by the Colts Neck High School’s choir’s rendition of the National Anthem.

A series of speakers then addressed the crowd. First, Col. James Sfayer spoke about his three years spent burying Marines in Arlington and the immensity of the cemetery. He emotionally described his duty of being parade commander for more than 40 services and presenting flags to those mourning their loved ones.

Mayor Russell Macnow explained the history of Memorial Day and how it originally started as Declaration Day in 1968, but always had the same purpose of honoring those who fought for our freedom. He challenged the crowd to remember the nation’s heroes every day. The mayor asked for a moment of silence just as the rain began, which seemed oddly appropriate, as the crowd hung their heads and reflected on our fallen heroes with nothing but the sound of raindrops falling all around them.

The mayor then introduced the new Commanding Officer of Naval Station Earle, Captain Pierre Fuller, who commented that the falling rain seemed fitting for a day of remembrance. Capt. Fuller spoke about the honor of the nation’s armed forces, and how its greatness lies in the ability to memorialize the men and woman who died serving our country. “It’s an opportunity to remember the valor and service of more than 1.1 million veterans who have perished,” he said. “Their sacrifices can never truly be measured, but they can be appreciated.”

Next to speak was Grand Marshal Danny Beyar, who joined the New York Fire Department in 1983. He remembered that he had gotten off work at 9:00 a.m. on September 11, but rushed back to help just as the second tower collapsed. Since retiring, he has dedicated his time to help the men and woman of the armed forces and first responders through organizations like the Tunnels to Towers Foundation. He recollected the story of Stephen Siller, who gave his life on 9/11 and whose sacrifice was the inspiration to start Tunnels to Towers. The run, from Brooklyn to Manhattan, went from an impossible idea to having 2,500 runners in its first year to having 35,000 runners last year.

Pastor Chris Durkin then gave the final benediction to conclude the ceremony, which, for many, meant it was time for their favorite part of the day: all the hotdogs you can eat at the Fire House. It was great to have the parade back and to have this wonderful setting to embrace patriotism and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.