RARITAN TWP. — Rain on Monday morning forced the Memorial Day observance here inside the Municipal Building. The event included a wreath-laying and several short speeches.
As they’ve done every Memorial Day since 1982, a group of people met in remembrance of all fallen service members but particularly Mike Baldwin and Fred Zyck, township residents killed in the Vietnam War while serving as Army sergeants. Their names are on the monument just outside the Municipal Building and the service was held by the display case inside dedicated to them.
Speakers included Raritan Township Committeeman Louis Reiner, and the Rev. Mark Spildooren of Flemington, a former Navy chaplain who is pastor of the First United Presbyterian Church of Amwell at Larison's Corner. He led the group in prayer and talked about the importance of remembering “all the sons and daughters of Hunterdon County who went off to serve their country” and especially those “who never came home.”
Reiner noted of the military members: “we take them for granted” and said patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are for more than picnics and having a good time Speaking of all our nation’s veterans, “you just can’t say enough for the American military personnel,” Reiner added.
Bob Godown, the master of ceremonies, is a past commander of the Flemington Veterans of Foreign Wars and current commandant of the Hunterdon County Veterans Alliance. It was 49 years ago, 1968, when Baldwin was killed in action and 48 years when Zyck fell in battle, he noted. Despite that they died almost five decades ago, “we don’t forget them,” Godown remarked. “They were our classmates,” both attending Hunterdon Central High School.
“Thank you for their service,” he said to family members at the event.
Also speaking was Jean O’Brien, a Navy veteran, daughter of a Vietnam veteran and wife of Committeeman Craig O’Brien, also a veteran. She told of the profound sense of loss she feels in the death of a man under her command, which was based in North Africa.
The ceremonies ended with the firing of a rifle salute and then taps by Mark Paradis, a Marine and former Lebanon mayor who is part of the group Taps for Veterans.
The monument was erected in 1982 near the Police Station. It was moved to its current location in front of the adjacent Municipal Building in 2011 and dedicated on Veterans Day that year as the Eagle Scout project of township resident Eddie Wheeler, then a member of Troop 194.