Mayor Robert Jackson, veterans, public servants, emergency responders and residents braved freezing temperatures to honor the men and women who protected our freedoms by serving in the armed forces at a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Edgemont Park. Two veterans spoke about their experiences, the service men and women who inspired them, the difficulties some veterans face when returning to civilian life and the need for resources to help them.
The ceremony started with a greeting by Mayor Jackson followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Boy Scout Troop 12. Destiny Davis, a Montclair High School student, sang the Star Spangled Banner and the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation gave the invocation.
Jackson then acknowledged the veterans organizations present as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Eagle Rock Chapter.
Guest speaker Micheal Turgeon, U.S. Army veteran and Montclair resident, spoke about veterans that influenced him and embodied the pledge of “Duty, Honor and Country.” He also reminded the crowd of the high suicide rate among returning veterans–22 deaths a day, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs–and the need to support those returning from combat.
Brett D’Alessandro, a Verona resident and U.S. Marine, spoke about the work of his organization, Backpacks for Life. The non profit provides veterans at risk of becoming homeless with toiletries and resources in backpacks. According to D’Alessandro, 1.5 million veterans are on the verge of being homeless. His organization also assists female veterans, spouses of veterans and children of veterans.
The ceremony ended with the Montclair Police Honor Guard firing a three-volley salute. Carl D. Witzig of the Montclair Community Band played taps and Rev. Sammler-Michael gave the closing blessing.
To see a video of the 35 minute event, click here.