Town of Newburgh residents celebrated and waved their American flags to various floats, vehicles and marchers in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade on Sunday, May 28. The celebration and remembrance of Memorial Day began with a brief memorial service held at the town hall with elected officials, various military groups and other service organizations pausing for a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Memorial Day service took place on Sunday morning at the J. Malone Bannan Memorial Building with American Legion Post 1420 Commander Duane Mickle leading the proceedings of the ceremony. The Town of Newburgh Police Department Color Guard presented the colors to begin and Mickle led the gathered crowd in the singing of God Bless America. In attendance for the service were Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio, Councilmen Scott Manley, Anthony LoBiondo and Paul Ruggiero, Town Clerk Lisa Vance-Ayers, Receiver of Taxes Joseph Pedi, Town Justices Richard Clarino and Jude Martini, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, Police Chief Bruce Campbell, Parks Commissioner James Presutti, Orange County Sheriff Paul Arteta and Senator Rob Rolison.
“All of the things that we enjoy, and especially on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend, would not have happened without the service of veterans, many who came home and many who did not,” said Rolison to the crowd. “Without veterans, without individuals who are willing to serve and are willing to risk and give all, we would not be here at such a beautiful spot in the Town of Newburgh with all kinds of great individuals who are still serving, and it is an honor to be able to say thank you to everyone.”
“We’re here today on Memorial Day to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. We do think of other veterans at this time but this holiday is especially for those that gave their lives. And I think we also should think about those Gold Star families that sacrifice and all the families that sacrifice when people go into the service,” said Jacobson to the crowd. “I’ve always thought about what is the best way to honor our veterans and particularly to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. And to me that would mean rededicating ourselves to the values that they fought, for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, association, free and fair elections, all the values that make our country great.”
Following remarks by both speakers, ceremonial wreaths were then placed in front of a memorial at town hall by American Legion Post 1420 members, Supervisor Piaquadio and Chief Campbell, American Legion Post 1420 Auxiliary Members, Purple Heart members, VFW Posts 1161 and 973, Marine Corps League members, Cronomer Valley, Goodwill, Dan Leghorn and Winona Lake Fire Departments, Town of Newburgh EMS and Boy Scout Troop 27. Retired service members took celebratory rifles and fired their weapons three times which was then followed by the playing of Taps on the bugle as all saluted.
For the parade this year, current Town of Newburgh Police Officer and veteran Matt Zuniga served as Grand Marshal for the ceremony. Zuniga served in the Air National Guard Military Police from 2011 to 2017. As a service member, he was a firearms and defensive tactics instructor and a SWAT team member. He joined the Town of Newburgh police in 2016 and has served in over 30 security missions while serving in Iraq. Zuniga was also the recipient of the Combat Action Ribbon and the Purple Heart.
“This beautiful day we share with each other and peace has been purchased for us by some of the most noble, selfless and brave men and women our country has ever produced, from those who gave their lives to defend our great nation all the way back to those who gave their lives to establish it in the first place,” said Zuniga. “Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay. It is our responsibility, our duty and even our privilege to honor their sacrifice.”
The town’s parade featured appearances from the town officials, Town of Newburgh Police, Newburgh Free Academy Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps [JROTC] Color Guard and cadets, Grand Marshal Zuniga, Heritage Middle School Marching Band, Town of Newburgh Animal Control, Coldenham Fire Company, Cronomer Valley Fire Company, Goodwill Fire Company, Boys and Girl Scouts, Middlehope Fire Department, Dan Leghorn/Winona Lake Engine Company, Town of Newburgh Emergency Medical Services, Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church and various VFW post members.