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05-26-09, 07:26 AM #1
North Jersey holds tributes to fallen soldiers
North Jersey holds tributes to fallen soldiers
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Last updated: Tuesday May 26, 2009, 6:16 AM
BY WILLIAM LAMB AND SHAWN BOBURG
With festive, boisterous parades and solemn ceremonies of remembrance, communities across North Jersey came together on Monday to celebrate the service of the nation's veterans and to honor those who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Parade routes in Clifton, Bergenfield, Waldwick and elsewhere were three and four people deep in parts, as latecomers positioned themselves behind early risers who had staked out spots for their lawn chairs hours before. High school marching bands provided the soundtrack as Girl Scout troops, student athletes and community groups filed down main streets across the area, and children scrambled to collect candy tossed from the passing floats.
Spectators reserved their loudest applause for parading veterans, some of whom donned vintage uniforms or rode in World War II-era jeeps. And that's as it should be, said Janet Lewis, 45, who watched Bergenfield's parade on South Prospect Street with her 8-year-old son, Joshua.
"For myself, when I see them, I scream and I clap," she said. "I want them to know their sacrifice is not for nothing."
Some veterans, like Jack Folker, 82, of Waldwick, wondered whether most people share Lewis' enthusiasm. Folker, who served with a Navy Seabee unit on Guam during World War II, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not generated the same sense of shared responsibility and sacrifice that both world wars did.
"I think it's being forgotten more and more each year because of lack of interest from the public," Folker said as he and his wife, Lyn, watched the Waldwick parade file past the corner of Franklin Turnpike and East Prospect Street. "It was a different story during World War II. The public was 100 percent behind it. Everyone pitched in — men, women and children. Now we're too much into ourselves."
For Jack Elwood, 84, who served with the Army's 103rd Infantry Division in France, Germany and Italy during World War II, attending the Waldwick parade each year is a modest way to thank fellow veterans for their service, he said.
"It's really what it's all about — honoring the veterans, remembering how they served and what they did," Elwood said. "They're not forgotten, those that are here and those that are not here."
Waldwick's parade ended with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Veteran's Plaza, outside the borough's public safety building on East Prospect Street. Nancy Nielsen, president of the Ladies' Auxiliary of American Legion Post 57, read the names of 21 Waldwick residents killed in the line of duty. The last of these, 26-year-old Sgt. Eric Hernandez, was killed in December 2007 while serving his second tour with the Army in Iraq.
Thousands gathered in Paterson to honor North Jersey's most recent war casualty, Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, who was killed in Iraq this month, allegedly by a troubled Army sergeant who had been ordered to give up his gun. City officials unveiled a monument to Bueno-Galdos, whose family members were in attendance. Governor Corzine, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and Paterson Mayor Joey Torres spoke at the tribute.
In Clifton, volunteers walking in the parade carried 303 white signs, each bearing the name of a city soldier killed during World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf wars.
The procession ended with a brief wreath-laying ceremony and bugle call at Chelsea Park, the site of a stone monument honoring fallen soldiers.
As speakers took to the podium, sign holders lined the perimeter of the small park, a visual accounting of the city's war dead.
Rudy Hudak, a Marine Corps veteran and retired Clifton High School teacher, scoured the placards for the name of a former student killed in Vietnam. Guyler Tulp died in April 1969 at age 20. Hudak, a veteran of the Korean War, recalled Tulp as a high school senior who was uncertain about his future. He turned to Hudak for advice.
"My goal was to inspire children that there were many opportunities, including the military. … That's what I think led him to join the Marines: He saw what the Marines did for me," Hudak said. After the ceremony, he retrieved the sign with Tulp's name on it. He said he planned to place the sign in the front yard of his Clifton home, next to a row of American flags.
In the afternoon, the Athenia section of the city held a tribute for its own lost sons — 32 men, most of them in their 20s when they died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Organizers from the Athenia Veterans Post read the name of each soldier and rang a bell, as veterans and neighbors stood in silence.
"It's a matter of you not forgetting," said Ted Kalinka, 73, a peacetime veteran whose brother, Edwin, was killed in World War II when his bomber was shot down over Bremerhaven, Germany. Ted Kalinka was 8 at the time.
Later, as he sat at the Athenia Veterans Post's bustling bar talking about his brother, the bartender cut through the din with a call for silence. Heads were bowed for several seconds at 3 p.m., part of a National Moment of Remembrance.
Then Ted continued, "I may have been 8, but I still remember my brother and the effect on our family so vividly. That's what today is about."
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IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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