History Club holds Memorial Day Ceremony at Hills

It included speeches from guests and ended with a wreath ceremony outside of the school.

Students+waiting+for+the+ceremony+to+begin.

Kaitlyn Verde

Students waiting for the ceremony to begin.

On the last day before Memorial Day Weekend, the Pascack Hills History Club held a Memorial Day Ceremony, which included speeches from guests such as assemblyman Robert Auth, and ended with a wreath ceremony in front of the American flag outside of the school.

Following senior Shariany Then’s singing of the national anthem, principal and United States Coast Guard veteran Tim Wieland gave opening remarks.

“I have a difficult time wrapping my head around Memorial Day…the only way we can truly honor those giving that sacrifice is to serve others,” he said.

The only way we can truly honor those giving that sacrifice is to serve others.”

— Tim Wieland, Hills principal and U.S. Coast Guard veteran

This is the first time that the school has held a ceremony like this one for Memorial Day. 

After Wieland spoke, vice president of the History Club, Zach Ben, read about Memorial Day history. He explained that it was originally called “Decoration Day” to represent the people that decorated graves to remember the fallen soldiers. 

On May 30, 1868, it was first acknowledged to commemorate soldiers that fought in the Civil War. In 1873, New York became the first state to designate it as a legal holiday, with other states following after. 

“Not only [is Memorial Day] a day of honoring, but a day of rest. We must remember the lives that were taken,” Ben said. 

We must remember the lives that were taken.”

— Zach Ben, vice president of the History Club

The two final speakers at the ceremony were assemblyman Robert Auth and district social studies supervisor & U.S. Army veteran Joseph Orlak.

Auth, who represents the 39th Legislative District in New Jersey, discussed what he thinks students should do in remembrance of Memorial Day.

“Visit that monument. Take a look at those names, your neighbors…small little things like that,” he said. 

One specific place he encouraged students to visit is Washington D.C. 

“Go to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…you’ll see stone after stone after stone [of fallen soldiers],” he said. 

Go to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…you’ll see stone after stone after stone [of fallen soldiers].”

— Robert Auth, New Jersey assemblyman

Orlak ended by thanking the speakers and said some closing remarks.

“Patriotism is the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime,” he said. 

History Club president Laila Collas led the wreath outside of the school with Auth. 

Christopher Volk, faculty advisor of the club, noted the importance of including this part of the ceremony. 

It is a tradition that could be traced to the aftermath of the American Civil War, in which citizens would remember and honor fallen soldiers from the war by decorating their graves with homemade wreaths, flags, and flowers,” he said, “As you pass through towns and cities on Memorial Day, you will notice that the tradition of laying wreaths remains strong.”

It is a tradition that could be traced to the aftermath of the American Civil War.”

— Christopher Volk, History Club advisor

After it was planted into the ground, those that attended engaged in a moment of silence and listened to sophomore Derek Geier play the taps. 

When students return from the long weekend after Memorial Day, Wieland said that he hopes students are able to reflect on those who were lost.

“[I hope that students] come back to Hills on Wednesday and figure out how we can serve everyone,” he said. 

Below is a gallery of more photos from the ceremony.