Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Place for Remembering

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Place for Remembering

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- Visitors to Veterans Park can now sit on benches and look up at flags representing the five branches of the Armed Forces or survey monuments of 13 American wars to reflect on the sacrifice of service members.

The raising of the flags on newly installed poles at a ceremony Monday capped off a 12-year process of renovating the block-sized park.

"Standing in this park gives us all a moment to remember those who died for us," Mayor William Laforet said before hundreds at the township's annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Before, the park -- wedged between cars racing by on Franklin Turnpike and trains tooting to signal their arrival at a nearby station -- had a single rock, with an eagle on top, dedicated to two township residents who died in World War I.

Now, with tables, benches, shrubs, perennials, flags and monuments, it comes closer to fulfilling its goal of honoring the military, officials said -- and not only on Memorial Day.

"Please look around at the many improvements made to this park over many years," Laforet told the crowd. "This park began with a dream, and that dream started with an idea to honor and celebrate our veterans and our community."

Councilwoman Lisa DiGiulio, chairwoman of the beautification committee, which took charge of the renovations, lamented that remembrances of veterans take place only a couple of times each year.

At the improved park, she said, "They can be remembered every single day of the year."

Participants at the parade and ceremony included veterans, township officials, police officers, firefighters, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and the Mahwah High School choir and marching band.

Frank Calandrillo, a past state commander of the American Legion and commander of the Mahwah Post 531, spoke of the need to support families who have lost members in war.

"We need to be there for them," he said. …

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