For many of those who marched, the day was one of the most important of the year. "These men and women gave their lives so that we can be here today," said veteran Thomas Kennedy, the commander of the American Legion Post 107. "It's days like this that we realize that all of their work was not forgotten."
In the parade were the officers from the Hoboken Police Department and Hoboken Fire Department in dress uniforms; several area high school marching bands, including the one from Hoboken High School; the Hoboken High School First Responders; the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corp; area Boy and Girl Scouts; local drum and fife corps; and representatives from several branches of the armed forces.
While Memorial Day isn't officially until Monday, Hoboken veterans traditionally come out the Wednesday before for the parade. As Hoboken veteran Vinny Wassman, a combat veteran who served two years in the Korean War, pointed out at the ceremony, Memorial Day was originally proclaimed Decoration Day on May 5, 1866. After the Civil War, many people in the north and south decorated graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The name was officially changed to Memorial Day in 1882. In 1971, the day was declared a national holiday to be held on the last Monday in May. "We're here to honor those who put themselves in harm's way so we can be free today," said Wassman. "It's important to us to remember those who sacrificed their lives and those who are still fighting every day."
Navy Vet Nicholas DeTrizio, who was selected by the Elks as the Hoboken Veteran of the year, said with troops currently overseas fighting, it's imperative that they know that their neighbors back home are supporting them.
"They are far away from home; away from there wives and children, from their mothers and fathers," said DeTrizio, who served between 1955 and 1962 as an airplane mechanic on aircraft carriers. "It is paramount for their morale that they know they have our support."