JACKSON — After a two-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, members of the
Jackson community will honor the service and sacrifice of the patriots who gave their lives
in defense of the nation’s freedom with a parade and ceremony on Memorial Day, May 30.
“We would like to see a large turnout as we honor America’s fallen this Memorial Day,” said Jackson Police Officer Michael Basso, who coordinates the township’s Memorial Day parade.
Leading the parade as its grand marshal will be homegrown hero Stephen Wallace “Wally” Jamison, a native of the Bennetts Mills section of Jackson.
The Memorial Day observance, which is sponsored by PBA Local 168, with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4703, Jackson, will begin with a parade. Marchers will assemble at 9 a.m. at the Holman Elementary School, Manhattan Street, Basso said.
The parade will step off at 10 a.m. and travel along Manhattan Street to Johnson Park, where a memorial service is planned to begin at 11 a.m.
According to Basso, any groups, including veterans groups, bands or others wishing
to join the parade, can email him at email@example.com or join those
assembling prior to the parade.
He said participating veterans groups will include members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AmVets, Rolling Thunder and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Also taking part in the parade will be the marching bands from Jackson Liberty High School and Jackson Memorial High School, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, local first responders, fire companies and members of the ROTC.
“We just want to be together to celebrate America,” said Basso, a Jackson native who
served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He said a motorcade through the township was substituted for the parade while pandemic restrictions were in place.
The memorial service at Johnson Park to honor fallen service members will include traditions including a blessing, the lowering of the flag and the playing of “Taps,” the military call sounded at memorial services, and remarks by a member of VFW Post 4703.
Following the memorial ceremony, there will be activities at the park including food,
vendors, giveaways and activities for children.
Jamison, the parade’s grand marshal, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and during World War II he took part in the landing on Omaha Beach in France and entered combat. He eventually participated in the liberation of Metz, France.
According to an account provided by Basso, following the successful allied invasion of Normandy during the summer of 1944, American forces pushed German forces back through France toward the German border.
The Germans fortified the French border city of Metz in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the American advance, but the U.S. 3rd Army under Gen. George Patton pushed forward, attacking Nazi posts during fierce fighting for nearly three months as American forces overran the forts and captured Metz.
More than 6,500 Americans were lost during the Lorraine Campaign, including the Battle of Metz.
Jamison, a private in the 95th Infantry Division, participated in the battle and was honored with commendations including the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the European Theater of Operations Medal, among other honors.
Jamison was honored by the French government in 2006 with the French Croix de Guerre, the Metz Liberation Medal and the French Legion of Honor for his contribution to the liberation of France during World War II.
Jamison was inducted into the Jackson Memorial High School Hall of Fame in 1992.
Following the Memorial Day ceremony at Johnson Park, members of VFW Post 4703 will return to the post at 54 Magnolia Drive to continue a decade-long tradition, according to Michael Lynch, a post member who has also served as post commander.
“We will do something we started about 10 years ago,” Lynch said, explaining that members gather outdoors at the “grotto” on the post grounds for a memorial ceremony.
“They place a flower down and we salute and all say, ‘This is for remembrance’ and
we say the member’s name, rank and service.
“Every family member present who wants to remember one of their loved ones steps forward, states their loved one’s name and service, then steps back and we salute. We have carried it on because people love (the ceremony) so much. It’s actually a tearjerker sometimes,” he said.