Pieces of cloth symbolize blood, sweat, and tears
North Bergen Flag Day Parade celebrates sacrifice
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Jun 30, 2013 | 3400 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Bergen Flag
HIGHEST HONOR – Paying tribute to the U.S. flag, and what it stands for, are West New York Mayor Felix Roque, Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff and Fr. Peter Wherle.
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North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Township Commissioners, veterans groups and other officials joined with local residents to honor the nation’s colors during the township’s annual Flag Day Parade on June 14. The parade began at 85th street and Bergenline Avenue and ended at Miller Stadium in West New York.
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“Let us never take our rights for granted.” – West New York Mayor Felix Roque
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Among those attending were Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez; Mayor Felix Roque and Commissioners FiorD’Aliza Frias, Ruben Vargas, Caridad Rodriguez, and Dr. Count Wiley of West New York; State Sen. and Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Commissioners Allen Pascual, Hugo Cabrera, and Frank Gargiulo of North Bergen; and Mayor Gerald Drasheff and Council Members Alfonso Caso, Monica Fundora, Donna Florio, and John Habermann of Guttenberg.

At Miller Stadium there were speeches and a ceremony to retire used American flags.

Drasheff served as master of ceremonies, introducing the evening’s speakers. Sacco led the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the North Bergen and Memorial high school bands played the National Anthem. Fr. Peter Wherle of Our Lady of Fatima Church in North Bergen spoke to the crowd.

A sign of freedom and life

“[We honor] the brave men and women who fought so we could be free,” Wherle said. “To the best of their abilities, they offered their lives so we could be here today. Let’s always remember that the flag is a sign of freedom and life.”

The American Dream

“We are honored in my town to host this event for another year,” Roque said. The mayor talked about the flag and what it represents, and why it is so special to him. “It allowed someone like me, the mayor, to pursue the American dream.”

Like Wherle, Roque said citizens should never forget that the flag stands for all those in the armed forces who fought so that Americans can enjoy the freedoms that they do.

“They fought for our right to be free,” he said. “Let us never take our rights for granted.”

Living in peace

“Each and every day, around the world, there are soldiers fighting for peace,” Wherle said. “We must all strive to live in peach with one and other. We pray for peace in the world. May we also live in peace in our communities.”

Flag retirement

Drasheff introduced the segment of the ceremony through which flags no longer serviceable were retired. The audience watched as Lewis Cannao of the West New York Parks & Public Property Department set fire to the gathered flags. For several minutes the fire burned until all the flags were consumed.

Rev. William Moore of Trinity United Methodist Church of North Bergen ended the evening with his statement.

“May we always fly the flags of our nation under unified care,” he said.

Program under way in three towns

In conjunction with the Flag Day celebration, the North Bergen Veterans’ Alliance is sponsoring its American Flag Retirement Program, collecting used flags to be retired.

“We are accepting American flags that are too old or tattered for use,” said an alliance spokesman. “These flags will be retired in a proper, dignified manner.”

There are four locations available throughout North Hudson that are open weekdays during normal business hours to accept the flags:

The sites, in the towns of North Bergen, Guttenberg and West New York, will accept the flags from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Monday through Friday. The sites and contacts are:

North Bergen: 64th Street Recreation Center, 6300 Meadowview Ave., Digger O’Dell, and Department of Public Works Garage, 6100 Tonnelle Ave., Ed O’Neill;

Guttenberg: Police Headquarters, 6808 Park Ave., Capt. Joel Magenheimer; and

West New York: Miller Stadium, 57th Street & Bergenline Avenue, Ken Furlong.

For additional information, call O’Neill at (201) 697-8746. Residents can call ahead before dropoffs.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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