"So far, we have 26 families, but we're looking for more people to come forward," said Sam Levin of the Jewish War Veterans, who initiated the effort to honor those who are serving and those loved ones waiting at home.
"They will march in the first unit," he said. "This is the first time this ever happened. We are having the families of today's troops in a special unit."
Macon, who is leading this year's parade as its grand marshal, said he thought this was a great idea and gave Levin credit for coming up with it.
"I can't think of a better way to honor those who are in service and their families," he said.
Levin said he had received the names of the 26 service people from City Hall. A list had been compiled as a way of developing strategies for supporting the troops.
In January, Mayor Joseph Doria asked a committee of civic volunteers to seek out the names, addresses and places where Bayonne residents might be serving in order to establish a way to give them aid and comfort. Doria appointed the 14-member committee to help open up communication between the city that soldiers call home and the places to which they have been sent.
"We don't know if this is all of them," said Levin. "But we would like to find out if there are more and invite those families to join us on Memorial Day, too."
Levin said people can call him at (201) 858-3726 if they know of more troops currently serving.
American Polish Veterans host this year's parade
This year's parade will feature Macon and Dr. John "Jack" Smith, who recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan.
Macon was selected by the membership of the American Polish Veterans to serve as the 2005 Grand Marshal. This is one of 12 posts that make up the Bayonne Memorial Day Parade Committee that sponsored the annual event. Each post takes its turn in hosting the parade, and the hosting post gets to pick the Grand Marshal.
Macon served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Orleans, France, from 1956 to 1958. He is currently employed by the City of Bayonne as a senior accountant. He served on the Bayonne Board of Education from 1980 to 1986.
Accompanying Macon near the lead of the parade will be Dr. Smith, who served in Afghanistan at a field platoon hospital very near to military operations. Smith, 51, who practiced internal medicine an office on Broadway and worked out of Bayonne Medical center, was called up quickly for duty late last year. Smith reported to Fort Benning, Ga. for retraining in combat medicine, vaccination shots and other orientation before being deployed in Afghanistan. He returned earlier this year.