Rain cancels Memorial Day Parade, moves it inside Cranford Community Center

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CRANFORD, NJ — Due to inclement weather, the Memorial Day Parade was canceled.

The Memorial Day ceremony was moved inside the Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Ave. All were welcome to attend to honor U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Mayor Brian Andrews welcomed attendees, followed by a reading of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” read by Thomas Villarreal from Orange Avenue School.

Performances included “America the Beautiful,” by The Cranford High School Band; “The Star-Spangled Banner,” by the Cranford High School Madrigal Ensemble; “Amazing Grace” and “Armed Forces Medley,” on bagpipes, by Tom Bell; and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” by the Cranford High School Madrigal Ensemble, arranged by Peter Lutkin.

Mark Schwartz, post commander of VFW Post 335, introduced this year’s grand marshal, Sgt. Jay Flanagan, a Vietnam veteran.

There was a dedication of the Cranford 86 Hometown Hero Banners. The mission of the Cranford 86 is to memorialize the lives of the 86 men who gave their lives during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Stories were shared about the lives of Emil F. Frank, who died fighting in World War II; Karl D. Hezel, who was killed in combat in the Vietnam War; Stanley H. Smith, who died while fighting in World War I; and Edward Mandoni, who was killed while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II.

Donna Mandoni, the niece of Edward Mandoni, was in attendance and received an honorary diploma.

Don Sweeney spoke further about the Cranford 86 project: 86 Cranford residents who have defended the country and never returned. Their names were etched in bronze on granite tablets, which were placed in Memorial Park. While the monuments are still there, many of the names have faded. The mission of Cranford 86 is to reintroduce these 86 men of service and put a face to their names on Memorial Day. Digital enhancement has been used to bring new life to old photos of veterans. They’ve been able to restore formally unusable pictures and updated more than 100 photographs.

The “Placing of the Wreaths” took place outside after the ceremony, honoring veterans of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, the Unknown Soldier, POW MIA, women who served the country, the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan.

Also outdoors was the gun salute.

Father Marc A. Vicari of St. Michael Church gave the Benediction.
“Never forget the courage of those who gave their lives because of freedom,” he said. “Lord, bless us with your peace and guidance. May God bless America.”

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta