LIVINGSTON, NJ — Members of the Livingston Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (LCDI) are on a mission to have Livingston be the next municipality to support Women’s Veterans Day, a celebration that recognizes the contribution of women in the military and educates the public about their sacrifices.
LCDI chair Billy Fine attended Monday’s township council meeting along with committee members and several local veterans to share information about how women in the military are often overlooked and request that the mayor and council recognize June 12 as Women’s Veterans Day in Livingston.
“The LCDI took a vote several months ago on whether we would pursue this matter as a committee,” said Fine. “The vote was unanimously in favor, so we began to compile our data. I hope we can work closely and continue to have many productive conversations with Livingston's veteran population and have high hopes the mayor and council will recognize this locally.”
Although the LCDI does not “wish to diminish the acts of valor and service celebrated and remembered on Veterans Day on Nov. 11,” Fine noted that the committee's intention is to “recognize women veterans who have traditionally been recognized as nothing more than ‘silent heroes,’ such as those who may not have been recognized historically.”
The long-term goal is to have Women’s Veterans Day recognized as a national holiday, but for now the LCDI hopes that Livingston will be the first municipality in New Jersey to join in the celebration on June 12—a date that was selected based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's signing of the Women in the Military Act.
Among those on the state level who have already shown support for the LCDI’s proposal is Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District, who has introduced similar legislation within the assembly.
“It is extremely important that we recognize the impact that our veterans have made on our lives and communities,” said Tucker. “It is particularly important that we recognize our women veterans for their service and commitment despite the obstacles they faced. It is important to highlight their efforts and growing presence in the state...I am proud that Livingston will support these efforts by creating a Municipal Day in their honor.”
Assembly members John McKeon and Mila Jasey, representing New Jersey’s 27th Legislative District, commended Tucker for “leading the charge” to enact Women’s Veterans Day as well as the LCDI for “recognizing the day with a platform of education, inclusion and dignity.”
“With nearly 26,000 female veterans in New Jersey, women have undoubtedly had a significant impact on the United States military and served their country courageously, yet their contributions are largely overlooked,” they said in a joint statement. “Designating June 12 as Women’s Veterans Day recognizes the commitment, contributions and sacrifices female veterans have made for our country.”
Fine also noted that Gov. Phil Murphy is currently pushing to have the state recognize the holiday, and Congresswoman Mikey Sherrill, a U.S. Navy veteran, has also expressed appreciation of these efforts.
Members of the township council also appreciated the idea, but were concerned that the date is approaching too quickly to have the designation occur in 2019.
“Women veterans should not be forgotten, so if something can’t be done before [June 12], I think we should still do something,” said Deputy Mayor Rudy Fernandez, who suggested having a back-up plan, such as hosting a ceremony, “at least to get something going this year on this date.”
Fine said that the committee is going to “try with all of our hearts and all of our resources to make this happen within this time frame,” but added that the committee has also been invited to participate in Livingston’s Memorial Day Parade and has considered requesting to have the women veterans represented there.
“That would be our first step in having that kind of inclusion in the military on our end, but we’re here to build the bonds and do the work,” he said. “If it does take us past June 12, we will have a plan in place, but I anticipate that we should have something in mid-May at the latest.”
Fine offered to make himself available to the governing body for any follow-up questions regarding this request.