Memorial Day Parade & Celebration 2009
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes gave his annual Memorial Day address at the Liberty Monument in Englewood. The commemorative ceremony and Parade at the Veteran's Monument was organized by Englewood Resident and Historian, Olga Mosciaro.
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes awarded the City's highest honor, with a Key to the City to Grand Marshall - Englewood Police Department Detective Stephen Ford.
(left to right): Victor Lucianna who served in the Infantry at the Battle of Okinawa and received 2 bronze stars, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, and Frank Lucianna who served in the Infantry and the 15th Air Force and received the Air Medal and Distinguished Air Medal
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes presenting a bronze plaque in honor of The Tuskegee Airman to
Tuskegee Airman Conrad DeSandies.
Mayor Michael Wildes Memorial Day 2009
Good Morning ladies and gentlemen, honored guests and residents of our beautiful City. It is indeed a great privilege as Mayor, to express my deepest gratitude to all who have come out today as we commemorate the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
Before memorializing those who served us so well and are no longer with us, I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge someone still very much with us, who has served us valiantly for 25 years.
Grand Marshall Stephen C. Ford served in the U.S. army for 21 years, on active duty in Kuwait , missions to extract American students from Grenada and a majority of those years as a senior Drill Instructor. Grand Marshall Ford's accolades from his service include, among many others, 1) National Defense, 2) Overseas and 3) Good Conduct ribbons as well as four U.S. achievement medals and three Army Commendation medals. Now home with his wife and son, he continues to serve our community on the Englewood Police force.
It is an honor and a privilege to welcome such an exemplary citizen and award him a key to the city.
Suitably remembering the valiant soldiers who protect us and our country, it is vital to revisit what they fought for, what is so important to us, to the free world, which requires such great sacrifice. We must recognize that the freedoms that we take for granted here in our country need protecting all over the world. The peace we teach our children about, is a battle we wage at every moment somewhere across the globe.
The ideals we developed as Americans and as humans, based on our religious, ethical and moral principles—the ideals our soldiers defend—we deem invaluable when we send our sons and daughters into the dangers of battle. We have the responsibility to always recognize the importance of the fight they fight.
But the task we charge them with is by no means simple. We must appreciate what it means to protect those ideals; know the cost of defending freedoms, the price of true and lasting peace. We must appreciate the courage of fallen soldiers and of those who continue the struggle for what we hold dear. That courage is what we recognize here today.
Memorial Day is an opportunity to stand up and applaud that courage. The author and musical artist Ambrose Redmoon famously penned that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Today, as a community of parents and siblings and children of—and those protected by—men and women of the service, we acknowledge their courage.
And this year as we honor all those who made the supreme sacrifice, it is my distinct honor to especially commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of pilots who not only showed courage in the face of our enemies but here at home as well. Their story speaks to the true soul of the American people.
In the early 40's, through many conflicts with the army, Congress and the populace of a country wouldn't accord equal rights to blacks: yet a group of black airmen worked fervently for the privilege of serving their country. Eventually permitted to join the army, some 990 men graduated the Tuskegee Institute to become members of the 99 th Fighter Squadron. Dispatched on missions throughout the Second World War, these patriots fought bravely beside their brothers in the force. Eventually, another class graduated Tuskegee Institute and formed the all black 332 nd Fighter Squadron. By the end of WWII, the Tuskegee Airmen were credited with shooting down 109 German Luftwaffe air-planes and was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for their contribution.
Today we memorialize this group of men whose respect for all mankind and desire to help their nation, black or white, was so great. Today we mourn the lives unlived, the potential unrealized, the families broken, the dreams shattered.
Although most of those Englewood citizens who were members of the storied group of Tuskegee Airmen have moved to other areas or passed on, we have one here with us today. Conrad DeSandies served with both the 99 th squadron here at home and the 332 nd overseas. Ending his service with an honorable discharge in 1945, Conrad eventually made Teaneck his home where he and his wife had four children, including their youngest, Andre, who lives here in Englewood .
Today, two of Andre's daughters are here with Conrad, T.S. Rose DeSandies, the 2008 Englewood Idol winner and LC DeSandies, who is playing bass on the steel band float with her father. It is our distinct honor to recognize three generations of role models, beginning with a man who knew the true meaning of courage and patriotism.
Today, I dedicate this plaque which will be permanently installed on the Liberty Monument as a reminder of the dedication and service of the Tuskegee Airmen. Inscribed are Dr. King's words: “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.” May those still serving their tour of duty stay safe. To Conrad and all his peers and to all of those who served or continue to serve their country here and overseas, on behalf of the City of Englewood , I thank you.
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes For Mayor, Assemblyman Arnold Brown, Treasurer
250 Allison Court, Englewood, NJ 07631