Private John B. Wands Jr. was one of dozens of young men from Verona who went off to fight in World War II. He was one of 33 who never returned: The 19-year-old was killed in the D-Day Invasion. Now, 70 years after V-E Day, Private Wands and his fellow heroes will march in Verona’s Memorial Day ceremony.
How is that possible? In amongst the flags and banners that are traditionally part of our parade, you will see signs like the one above, one sign for each of the 43 Verona men who died serving their country from the Civil War through the Vietnam conflict. There will also be a sign for Patrolman Theodore Braun, who died in the line of duty at home. The signs will be carried by marchers, several of whom are family members of the deceased. Once the parade and the ceremonies at the civic center are over, the signs will be placed on top of the street signs at the intersection closest to where the men lived in Verona.
The added memorial to this year’s commemoration is the culmination of a long effort by Rob Caruso, a Verona resident who has painstakingly compiled a history of each of Verona’s heroes, both their lives before their service and their time in uniform. The work brings new life to the long list of names that are read and honored in the Memorial Day ceremony.
Verona’s Memorial Day parade steps off from Everett Field at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 25. Marchers will head west on Bloomfield Avenue for the service in front of Town Hall. You can read about all the Verona Heroes here.