One of the reasons the East Orange Interactive
Museum is a sponsor of the East Orange Unified Marching Band is
because they are so frequently linked with the history of East
Orange. Today is a good example of that historic importance.
Every year on memorial day, the United Staes Armed Services
Veterans hold a parade. Not the big, flashy, noisy parade with
fire trucks and vendors, but almost a private parade that few get
This is the real Memorial Day Parade.
The Veterans come out of City Hall at the stroke of 11:00 AM,
where they have been holding Memorial Services since 9:00 AM.
They march in formation around to the side of City Hall carrying
The wreath is placed at the base of the
Veteran's Monument which lists the names of those East Orange
residents who died in the service of their country between 1941
and 1945, in World War II.
Yesterday's History merges with today's History
as Khalil Welch, of the Cicely Tyson High School Marching Band
plays "Taps." This is his fourth and last year playing
"Taps" at this ceremony. Khalil is a senior in high
school and will soon graduate and begin attending college away
from East Orange. But however far he travels from us, we know
that every year on Memorial Day, he will remember East Orange,
his high school years, his marching band years, and the honor he
had playing for these veterans each year at their special parade
that few people attended.
As Khalil plays "Taps," the Veterans
salute the flag and secretly wonder who among them will not be
standing here next year. But now the ceremony ends, and their
family and friends draw them back into today's world. Now it is
time for a photo opportunity, and then off to the grandstand for
that "other" Memorial Day Parade attended by most of
the people of East Orange, who wave flags and cheer, and who
never imagine that the real parade has already passed them by.
"Let us, then, at the time appointed,
gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless
mounds above them with the choicest flowers of springtime... let
us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist
those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the
Nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and
orphans." General John Logan, General Order No. 11, May
The "choicest flowers of springtime"
are not on the wreath at the base of the monument. They are down
at the other end of City Hall Plaza in the 1962 Senior Citizen's Garden, where earlier this
morning they were being decorated with a few flags and ribbons so
all will know they are a part of Memorial Day, too. Then the
flags will be stolen by children who don't know any better, and
the Garden will be trampled by weary marchers from that
"other" parade, but it will be here again tomorrow, to
be tended and watered and cherished by a few civic volunteers,
like Al-Quadir Marsh shown in the photo above and members of the
Historical Society of East Orange and others who pitch in to help
beautify our city.