Memorial Day 09

The Oakland parade, sponsored by the American Legion Post and the borough, will be on Sunday, May 24th at 1pm on Route 202 in front of Veterans Park. Also, read at the bottom of this article the tribute planned for Oakland’s Frank Defino in the Franklin Lakes parade.

“Every year–in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life–there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. “~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The Grand Army of the Republic was the civic organization that created what is now known as Memorial Day. In 1868, members of the organization of Civil War veterans were instructed to decorate the graves of their fallen comrades with flowers on May 30th. It was called Decoration Day then, but soon became known as Memorial Day. The photo presented here bears witness to the honor that The Grand Army of the Republic bestowed on the graves of their kindred spirits. The five point star was the emblem of this organization that continued until 1949. The last member Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at the age of 109 years.

memorial2The GAR was founded on three principles: Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty. They raised funds for medical and burial expenses, and provided sustenance for poor veterans and widows; by 1890, they had established orphanages in seven states. They also worked to build the physical reminders of the valor represented by their fallen comrades, and solicited funds for memorials, statues, and the preservation of Civil War sites, documents and relics. The Journal offers our readers the following excerpts from a famous Memorial Day speech. We believe it offers the guidance needed to meet our moral obligations and still embrace the joys of the day.

Oliver Wendall Holmes, Supreme Court Justice of the United States, was wounded three times during the Civil War. He is the most often quoted Supreme Court Justice, and a man of great pragmatism. During the Battle of Fort Steven’s, when President Lincoln was reviewing the troops, he crossed paths with Oliver Wendell Holmes who was a young soldier at the time. As the tall, lanky Commander-in-Chief stood up and presented himself as an easy target during the battle, Holmes yelled out, “Get down, you fool!”.

“So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly…..

memorialday3Feeling begets feeling, and great feeling begets great feeling. We can hardly share the emotions that make this day to us the most sacred day of the year, and embody them in ceremonial pomp, without in some degree imparting them to those who come after us….But even if I am wrong, even if those who come after us are to forget all that we hold dear, and the future is to teach and kindle its children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that this day is dear and sacred…..As surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead…

Every year–in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life–there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier’s grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march–honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.

But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death–of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen , the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”

The Oakland Journal honors all those who have died in the service of their country, we honor their memory, their spirit, and the sacrifice of their families and friends. The Franklin Lakes parade, sponsored by the VFW, will be honoring Oakland’s Frank Defino.

The Grand Marshall for this year’s parade and ceremony is Frank DeFino of Oakland. This honor is bestowed on Frank, posthumously. Frank died suddenly last September and the membership of the Post believed the honor of Grand Marshall was a fitting manner to recognize Frank’s devoted service to the Post, the community and the country. Frank will be represented at the parade and ceremony by his wife, Donna and his daughter, Jenna. Frank was a Life Member of VFW Post 5702. He was a Past Post Commander. He was the chairman for the house, maintenance, and rental committees. Frank was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He served in Vietnam during 1967-68. He was a member of Company A, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment (Custer’s Own), 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Frank attained the rank of Sergeant. He was a radio operator for his platoon Lieutenant. Frank was awarded the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the National Service Defense Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars.