STATE – Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer vacation season for many, traces its roots back to the end of the Civil War.
The holiday was first established at Decoration Day in 1868 as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Smaller local events had been held as early as 1866, the year after the war ended.
Following the First World War, the holiday expanded to include the honoring of the dead from all American wars. In 1971, Congress established the official date of Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. Previously, it had been celebrated on May 30 each year.
Many New Jersey communities will hold Memorial Day events this weekend. Here are some in Union and Middlesex counties:
Carteret will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at Carteret Waterfront Park at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 26. At noon, the Veterans Alliance will hold ceremonies at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial at Carteret Park. The borough’s annual Memorial Day Parade will start at 1 p.m. at the Doc Fenick Clock Tower at the corner of Washington Avenue and Louis Street, continue up Washington Avenue before turning onto Roosevelt Avenue and finally on to Pershing Avenue. Following the parade, there will be a town barbecue at Borough Hall.
Clark’s annual Memorial Day parade will start at 9:30 a.m. on May 27 at the corner of Westfield Avenue and Nassau Street. It will continue to Arthur L. Johnson High School, where a ceremony will be held at the township’s war memorial monument.
Cranford’s Memorial Day parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 27. Participants will assemble at the Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Avenue at 8:30 a.m. and the parade route will run along Central Avenue, passing a reviewing stand at Memorial Park on Springfield Avenue. Col. David K. Berkowitz, vice commander of the 512th Airlift Wing based out of Dover Air Force Base, Del. will serve as the parade Grand Marshal. Memorial Day services will be held at the park at 10 a.m.
Following Cranford’s Memorial Day observance, the Cranford Historical Society will dedicate a monument to the township’s Civil War veterans in Memorial Park on Springfield Avenue. The Civil War monument’s installation and accompanying dedication pamphlet are the culmination of over ten years of research and fundraising by the Cranford Historical Society’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, and was supported by a Union County History Grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. For more information, visit www.cranfordhistoricalsociety.com.
Edison’s Memorial Day parade is set for noon on Sunday, May 26. The route runs along Amboy Avenue from Madison Avenue to Jackson Avenue. For more information, call 732-248-7298.
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover will host a Memorial Day Weekend concert at the Fanwood Train Station on South Avenue from 7-8:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 26. The Westfield Community Band, led by Dr. Thomas Connors, will play patriotic melodies and traditional marches.
On Monday, May 27, Fanwood’s Memorial Day observance will begin with a ceremony at the War Memorial in front of the Fanwood Memorial Library at 9 a.m. A parade will follow, beginning at approximately 10:45 a.m. in Scotch Plains, down Martine Avenue, and continuing through Fanwood, ending at LaGrande Avenue.
New Providence will hold a Memorial Day service at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 27, at Veterans Memorial Park, South Street. Parade participants will assemble at 9:30 a.m. on Central Avenue off Springfield Avenue, and the parade will begin at 10 a.m. The route ends at the Veterans’ Memorial at the New Providence Memorial Library. Immediately afterwards, the American Legion invites people to view its collection of memorabilia at Post #433 next to the library. The Senior Citizens Center at 4th Street and Livingston Avenue will offer refreshments.
Old Bridge’s Memorial Day parade gets underway at 9 a.m. on May 27 at Memorial School, 11 Ely Avenue, Laurence Harbor. It concludes with services at Memorial Park, directly across the street from the Laurence Harbor Fire House.
Perth Amboy’s Memorial Day parade begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, from the Raritan Bay Area YMCA parking lot (357 New Brunswick Avenue) and will proceed to Sadowski Parkway. A ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. at the Veterans’ War Memorial on Sadowski Parkway.
Plainfield will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27 at City Hall, 515 Watchung Avenue.
Rahway’s Memorial Day parade will be held on Sunday, May 26, stepping off from City Hall at 1:30 p.m.
Roselle’s Memorial Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, at East 2nd and Harrison avenues, and finish at the Roselle Free Public Library at West 4th Avenue. The American Legion, 115 Grove Street, Roselle, will offer free food following the ceremony. For more information, call 908-634-4502.
Roselle Park’s annual Memorial Day ceremony will be held at the Veterans Memorial Library Lawn, 404 Chestnut Street at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 27. For more information, call 1-908-245-0666.
Westfield’s Memorial Day parade is set to start at 9 a.m. on Mayy 27 at the World War I Monument Circle, with the route proceeding up East Broad Street to Fairview Cemetery.
Woodbridge will hold a Memorial Day remembrance ceremony at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 26 at Charlie Shaughnessy Park on Inman Avenue in Colonia at the Cpl. Kevin Reinhard Gazebo.
On Monday, May 27, the The Keasbey Fire Department will hold their annual Memorial Day Parade and Service at the Keasbey War Memorial Monument Park at 8 a.m. The Parade steps-off at 7:30 a.m. from the Keasbey Fire Department, 420 Smith Street and will march to the Keasbey War Memorial Monument Park for the 8 a.m. service. The United States Coast Guard Woodbridge Auxiliary Flotilla 4-4 will conduct a wreath-laying ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Woodbridge Marina at the foot of Cliff Street in Sewaren. American Legion T. Nulty Post #471 will conduct their annual Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. at the Post Headquarters, 25 Brown Avenue in Iselin. The Iselin VFW Memorial Post #2636 will hold a Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. outside Post Headquarters located on Auth Avenue in Iselin.
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