RARITAN, NJ - Officials dedicated the new Veterans Park, on West Somerset Street in Raritan, at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 12.
Somerset County created the park adjacent to the John Basilone Statue to honor the World War II Medal of Honor recipient and all United States veterans.
The park was announced in September 2016, and officials cut the ribbon to open it one year later.
“There are a lot of real heroes who have to be thought of and remembered routinely,” former Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco, now president of the Somerset County Parks Commission, said during the ceremony. “We need these parks so generations to come can remember.”
Sen. Mike Doherty, R-23, took the podium, and said he remembers when society didn’t do a great job thanking military veterans. But recently, he said, people are more likely to recognize military veterans and recognize the United States military as being the fine institution it is.
“This park really enhances Raritan Borough, and this really enhances Somerset County, so congratulations on this great accomplishment and thank you for recognizing the service of our military veterans,” he said.
Raritan resident, and veteran, John Pacifico thanked everyone for the park, particularly on behalf of the John Basilone Parade Committee, which he chairs.
“My dear friends, on behalf of the John Basilone Parade Committee and the Borough of Raritan, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to our county and our heritage committee for this beautiful veterans monument park,” he said. “It will help us to preserve the memory of all those men and women who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”
Raritan Borough Mayor Charles McMullin also expressed his gratitude for the new park.
“The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders shared a vision with Raritan for this great veterans park,” he said. “We all celebrate the transformation of this vision into a reality, a very attractive and fitting reality, that was formed with great skill and care by the Somerset County Freeholders, technical staff and administrative staff. This is a fitting place to put into context the significance of this dedication to the veterans of Raritan and beyond.”
“For example,” he added, “during World War II, Raritan Borough had a population of about 5,000 people. During the war, approximately 900 people from Raritan served their county. Doing the math, almost half of the borough’s eligible population served in the military during that war.”