Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1002 will serve as grand marshals of the the 16th annual Sussex County St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16 in Newton, N.J., honoring the whole chapter rather than a single individual.
“In the past, we always had an individual or a couple as our grand marshal, but this year we thought we’d do something different and recognize an entire organization — and the first thing that came to mind was the Vietnam veterans,” Dennis Harrington, chairman of the Sussex County St. Patrick’s Day Committee, told the New Jersey Herald.
The committee decided to honor the chapter in part for its work in establishing the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which opened in 2015. “This chapter has done tremendous work in the county not only by helping to bring about the cemetery, but also through other things they’ve done in the community,” Harrington said.
“I was shocked when I heard that they decided to make the whole chapter a Grand Marshal, and everyone else in the chapter was amazed as well,” said John Harrigan, Chapter 1002 president.
As Grand Marshal, Chapter 1002 gets to select a charity to receive the net proceeds of the parade committee’s fundraising efforts, and the funds will go toward the veterans cemetery. The cemetery is set to break ground on a new building with a chapel and bathroom facilities in the spring.