LONG BRANCH: Long Branch students gathered inside the high school to commemorate Memorial Day on Tuesday morning.
The ceremony was patriotic and showed off the kind of skills and life styles our military has protected – our country and its way of living, its history and values. And its future, the children.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Salvatore welcomed each school group, the high school, the middle school a block away, and the West End and A.A. Anastasia elementary schools. The West End students had walked there escorted by teachers, a trip that brought smiles as Mr. Salvatore thanked them.
The Air Force Jr. ROTC presented the colors in perfect cadence. Senior David Brown delivered an opening prayer, followed by Juan Martinez leading the Flag Salute.
The Star Spangled Banner was sung with gusto by 11th Grader Reanna Runge of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy.
The Middle School Choir sang “You Raise Me Up” with a stirring, well received performance. West End Third Grade Chorus changed the musical pace a bit with “This Land is Your Land” as the audience turned to listen to the youngsters capture the moment.
The closing musical presentation was by the A.A. Anastasia Elementary School Talented Theme Chorus singing ‘An American Song" with western style hats they waved to all with their crescendo final verse.
Mr. Salvatore’s words were reminders of the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. He told the history of World War II when students from the 1945 and 1946 Long Branch High were drafted into the military. Some did not return, he said. He said we remember them and thank them for protecting our freedom and life today.
He explained that “Call of Duty” had a different meaning than today. It meant to help an injured friend on the battlefield, and save a life even while risking your own.
Freeholder Serena DiMaso later in the ceremony added to his words saying it was different in those times an places. Yet there remains the need to preserve freedom and liberty and we all have the responsibility today.
Members of the city council and city agencies and clergy were in the audience, some military veterans. Some parents were there as well, along with school staff and volunteers.
The Memorial Day Essay contest was awarded to Amanda Tracey, Grade 5 at West End school; Eniyah Garner, Middle School; and Victoria Cattelona a junior at the high school.