FREEHOLD – In addition to honoring individuals who died in service to the nation, Freehold Borough’s annual commemoration of Memorial Day will pay tribute to the centennial anniversary of the borough, a veterans organization and a lifelong resident of the town who was the last surviving sibling of six brothers who fought in World War II.
The 145th Memorial Day parade, to be held on Memorial Day, May 27, will be preceded by the Service of Reflection at Elks Point at 8:30 a.m.
The Service of Reflection is held in memory of all Freehold and other American servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives defending the United States. Borough Councilman George Schnurr will serve as the master of ceremonies for the service.
Following the Service of Reflection, the 145th Memorial Day parade in the borough will begin at 9:45 a.m. at Brinckerhoff Avenue and West Main Street. A casket covered by an American flag will be accompanied by active military personnel, Schnurr said.
At 10 a.m., representatives of local veterans organizations will begin their march along Main Street, followed by the rest of the parade participants.
According to Schnurr, Freehold Borough’s Memorial Day parade is the state’s longest running parade of its kind. He said it is Monmouth County’s largest such parade, with an average of more than 70 units participating each year.
“The Freehold Memorial Day parade is as old as the Kentucky Derby and is one of the signature events of our community,” the councilman said. “When this streak of 145 parades honoring our servicemen and servicewomen started, there were only 37 states in our nation.”
The lead veterans organization for the 2019 parade is American Legion Post No. 54, Freehold Borough. The theme of this year’s parade, as decided by the post, is to honor the “100th anniversary of the American Legion and Freehold Borough.”
2019 marks the centennial anniversary of Freehold Borough’s incorporation as its own municipality after it separated from Freehold Township in 1919.
The parade will honor the memory of World War II veteran Bigerton Yemmons “Buddy” Lewis Jr., who has been posthumously selected by the American Legion as the parade grand marshal. Lewis died in February at the age of 93.
Lewis was a lifelong resident of the borough. He and his five brothers – Alexander, Lester, Augustus, Donald and Payton – all served in the United States armed forces during World War II.
Buddy, the youngest of the brothers, was a member of the U.S. Army, Company A, 1317th General Service Engineer. His five brothers predeceased him.
In honor of their military service, the pavilion at Veterans Park, Schanck Street, was named the Lewis Brothers Pavilion on Veterans Day 2018. Buddy Lewis attended the ceremony and spoke to those in attendance.
“The parade has grown exponentially through recent years under the direction of our many dedicated volunteers, most notably Chairperson Alice McCobb, who is the glue that hold everything together,” Schnurr said.
“I would like to thank Alice for all of her hard work, not just now, but throughout the entire year. I would also like to thank the Streets and Roads Department for helping us get Freehold Borough ready for the parade,” the councilman said.