Home Events + NewsEvents This Hoboken Veteran is the First Woman Grand Marshal to Lead the Memorial Day Parade

This Hoboken Veteran is the First Woman Grand Marshal to Lead the Memorial Day Parade

by Danielle Farina
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Tomorrow, May 22nd, is Hoboken’s annual Memorial Day Parade, and though the parade is a longstanding tradition in town, this year marks the first time a woman is being honored as the parade’s Grand Marshal (a.k.a, she’ll lead the parade). The recipient, Sue Stephens, is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army National Guard for 24 years and was a flutist in the US Army Band unit. This isn’t the first time she’s made Hoboken Girl headlines, either; Sue is also the resident behind Hoboken’s decorative stump on the corner of Bloomfield + Second Streets. Ahead of the parade, we caught up with Sue to learn more about her military service, the honor she’s receiving, and of course, all things Hoboken. Read more about Hoboken resident Sue Stephens, this year’s Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal.

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Photo Credit: Sue Stephens 

The Hoboken Girl: Tell us about yourself, what you do for work, + where you live.

Sue Stephens: I work for the Institute for Family Health, which is an outpatient clinic in NYC. I am part of the IT team that supports their EMR (electronic medical record).

Read More: Hoboken Memorial Day Parade 2024 Returns Wednesday, 5/22

HG: What inspired you to join the military, + how did your early experiences shape your career?

SS: I was inspired to join the military in college after a few of my friends joined the National Guard. Through them, I saw all the great benefits the National Guard provided. Coupled with my patriotism, I decided to join. I was originally going to join a medical unit, but once I found out there was a military band, decided that was a better fit.

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HG: Can you share a memorable story or moment from your service that significantly impacted you?

SS: I was in a military school that was needed to get promoted to the rank of Sergeant. The first day, the instructor went around the room and had us each introduce ourselves. When it was my turn, I shyly said “I’m Sue, I’m in the band” – in an ashamed tone, because band members often are thought to be “lesser” soldiers, since we don’t normally do infantry-type missions. The instructor then said “Sue – do not be ashamed that you are in the band! You should be proud of that! You can fire a rifle like each of us in this room, but none of us in this room have the skills that you have to be part of that elite unit.” To this day, I will always say “I’m IN THE BAND” proudly.

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Photo Credit: Sue Stephens

HG: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during your military career, + how did you overcome them?

SS: Honestly, since I was in the band, I had a very smooth Army career. I never was deployed (luckily) and I was privileged to play my flute to support the troops!

 


 

HG: How has your military experience influenced your life after retirement, + what advice would you give to young women considering a career in the armed forces? 

SS: I’d say GO FOR IT! The military is a great way to learn new skills, meet interesting people, and gain discipline.

HG: What does being honored at this week’s parade mean to you, + how do you hope your story will inspire others?

SS: I’m SUPER honored and humbled to be the Grand Marshal of the parade. I found out recently that I’m the first female Grand Marshal, which is incredible to me. I hope I can inspire some young girls and women to consider a career in the military, whether it be part-time (National Guard or Reserves) or full-time.

sue stephens hoboken nj

^ Sue’s decorative stump in Hoboken. Photo Credit: Sue Stephens

HG: What are some of your favorite local businesses in Hoboken? What’s your favorite part about living here?

SS: My favorite restaurant might be Court Street, with Dear Maud a close second. My favorite bars (besides the American Legion Post 107) are Cork City and Finnegans. My favorite shops are Luna Rosa and Washington General. And favorite coffee shop is Empire Coffee. Favorite part about living here? The proximity to NYC allows me to take advantage of all the culture and fun things there. Still, being in Hoboken, I love the small-town feel, very walkable with a sense of community, where you see familiar faces around town.

See More: Memorials to Visit in Essex County for Memorial Day

The 2024 Hoboken Memorial Day Parade kicks off on May 22nd at 6PM and Sue will lead the march down Washington Street at 6:30PM. You can see all the event details here

For all the latest Hoboken + Jersey City news, be sure to follow @thehobokengirl on Instagram + TikTok, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here

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