(ABOVE: Craig Wallace Dale photo)
Hoboken’s 119th Annual Memorial Day Parade will take place along Washington Street this Wednesday, May 24th. Units will assemble at 6:00pm in front of City Hall (1st Street and Washington Street), then at 6:30 they will proceed north on Washington Street to the reviewing stand on 10th Street & Washington Street in front of the Hoboken Elks Lodge.
This year marks the 119th year of marching up Washington Street to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice. The Hoboken Memorial Day Parade is the oldest continuous parade in the State of New Jersey.
Serving as Grand Marshal for this year’s parade is hMAG‘s own “Publisher Emeritus,” Joe Mindak.
The first non-veteran to ever serve as the Parade’s Grand Marshal, Mindak has been instrumental in helping Hoboken American Legion Post 107 in their ongoing mission to rebuild a new post that will serve as a home for local veterans in need.
“Joe acts like a Veteran,” says Post 107 Commander John Carey. “Joe doesn’t walk away, and he continues to be there for us during this difficult time as we try to raise $1 million to complete our goal of providing housing for our Homeless Veterans. He holds a position on our fund raising board and his input is priceless.”
Says Mindak, “It’s really an honor to be asked by the Veterans to serve as the Grand Marshal. The Vets continue to say ‘Thank You’ constantly, when it’s us who should be thanking them. I believe this is their way of saying thank you to myself and the Hoboken Rotary Club for stepping up when nobody was helping them after Sandy destroyed their club. It really shows you that they truly needed help, so I hope that we can get the whole community behind the rebuilding of the Legion.”
An ambitious redesign of the Hoboken American Legion Post 107, which will provide shelter for a half-dozen homeless veterans, has been approved by the Hoboken Zoning Board. The Hoboken American Legion was washed out in Superstorm Sandy, with the original HQ restored in 2015. This new plan at 308 Second Street—coordinated between the Legion, Monarch Housing, the Hoboken Shelter, and the City of Hoboken—will serve as a flood-proof community center with six units available to area veterans in need.
“I would ask everyone in town to help in any way they can with raising the funds they need. Any amount will help but we are also hoping some businesses and individuals to step up with some larger donations, as it is a big nut we are looking to raise—but nobody deserves it more than the Vets,” says Mindak. “If a donation is not possible, the best thing you can do is come to the parade to honor them. A simple ‘Thank You’ goes a long way.”
On Wednesday, May 24th Washington Street will initially be closed between 1st Street and Observer Highway at approximately 6pm for the assembly of the parade. NJ Transit buses will be diverted to Hudson Street and Bloomfield Street at that time. Washington Street and side streets will be closed as the parade proceeds northbound. Police officers will be on hand to direct traffic throughout the area. Drivers should expect delays in the area during the parade.
Keep in mind, Hoboken has played pivotal roles in the service of our nation. Troops embarked from Hoboken, bound for Europe in World War I. They were given three options by the Commander of the American Expedtionary Force, General John “Blackjack” Pershing—”Heaven, Hell or Hoboken.” Some of them returned to Hoboken at the War’s end. Many of them did not.
Of those who did not return, 71 were men who called Hoboken “home.” The Second World War saw a staggering 263 of our citizens killed in action. In the Korean War, we lost another three. Nine Hoboken men died in Vietnam.
“For a square mile,” said the American Legion’s Jack O’Brien, in a 2011 interview with hMAG, “that’s a hell of a sacrifice.”
It is indeed. All they ask in return is for an hour each year to honor their memory.