EAST AMWELL, NJ - A standing room only crowd of enthusiastic Veterans and their families packed into the Hunterdon County 4H Fair’s Main Stage tent this week to salute the Class of 2019 Veterans’ Recognition Medal recipients.

Included among the 50 Hunterdon  Veterans who were honored was U.S. Navy Veteran Jon Hanson of Annandale, a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Veterans, spanning service from World War II to the current War on Terror, were presented medals and certificates honoring their service. They joined the ranks of almost 4,000 other County Veterans who are previous recipients of the award, which was created by Hunterdon County Veteran John N. Hatzikalfas in 2002.

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Four County Veterans; Michael Aneskewich, Sr., Richard Booth, Alva Cronce, Jr., and James Toscanni were honored posthumously, with family members accepting their medals.

“This is my sixth and final year as a member of the Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders,” said Hunterdon County Freeholder Board Director Suzanne Lagay, who did not seek re-election this year. “And for all those six years, to participate in this Veterans ceremony each year has been the highlight.”

Lagay pointed out that among the elected officials presenting medals to the Veterans were Army Veteran and state Sen. Mike Doherty, and Navy Veteran and Hunterdon Sheriff Fred Brown.

Other elected officials given the honor to present the Recognition Medals included state Sen. “Kip” Bateman; Assembly members Erik Peterson, John DiMaio, and Roy Freiman; County Surrogate Susan Hoffman, Acting Prosecutor Michael Williams; and Hunterdon County Freeholders John E. Lanza, Matt Holt, Shaun Van Doren, and Susan Soloway.

Prior to the medal award ceremony, Hunterdon County Sea Scout Jack Dabb’s verbatim presentation of the late President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Freedom Is Not Free – A Soldier’s Pledge’ speech, from the May 31, 1982, Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, brought the crowd to its feet.

The attendees were entertained by the Rogers Dance Academy of Flemington who performed dance routines in concert with musical renditions of each of the military services’ anthems.

“I am honored each year to be involved in the Veterans ceremony,” said longtime 4-H Fair Master of Ceremonies Dan Torrone.  

The event was part of the Fair’s opening ceremonies at the Roger K. Everitt Fairgrounds in Ringoes here on Aug. 21.

“I can’t think of a better way to kick off the 4-H Fair,” Torrone said.