LIVINGSTON, NJ — A crowd gathered at Livingston’s Homecoming Light at the Oval on Veteran’s Day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the light, which was established in 2007 to honor those military families and loved ones who continue to serve.
Longtime Livingston resident Bunny Ratner envisioned and was instrumental in creating the Homecoming Light as a welcoming beacon of light for Livingston service men and women. The plaque by the Homecoming Light reads: “This Light will shine until that time when all our service men and women are safe at home and peace reigns throughout the world.”
“This was to honor those military people who are currently serving,” said Ratner. “It was outstanding. If anyone thought it was cold, this was such a warm, wonderful, exciting, beautiful hour. I thank the council for giving me the opportunity to do it.”
On behalf of the Livingston Township Council, Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein thanked Ratner and other involved volunteers for creating the opportunity for the township to once again recognize and honor its veterans.
“Livingston as a township makes recognizing our veterans a high priority,” said Klein, who spoke about the 1 percent that has willingly taken up the responsibility to protect the country and maintain freedom in the world. “These valiant volunteers make the sacrifice while the rest of us were told not too long ago to keep on shopping. If ever there comes a time where we have no soldiers fighting abroad, we may be able to turn [the light] off.”
In preparation for the ceremony, organizers realized they did not have the answer to a simple question: “Who in Livingston is serving; who is protecting us right now?”
Klein stated that the 1 percent of Americans stationed in areas of conflict who put themselves in harms way on a daily basis to protect their country deserve to be acknowledged.
In order to honor Livingston’s active-duty military members, six family members spoke at the event to share about the many achievements of their sons, daughters and grandchildren.
“It was so inspiring to hear about their accomplishments, you could not help feeling a swelling of pride that they were from Livingston,” said Klein. “Truly, our armed forces represent the best of us. These lives are precious beyond words and we can only hope our president understands that.
“Lindsey Graham reported that President Trump told him with regard to the escalating conflict and the possible dropping of bombs in the Koreas that ‘if they die, they will be over there.’ Well, ‘over there’ is where our people are. We hope this president understands that his words and actions could have dire consequences for our bravest and we pray that cool heads and good judgment will prevail. We pray for peace. And we pray we can turn off our Homecoming Light.”
Ratner noted how heartwarming it was to hear from the family members during the event.
She added that when the light was established ten years ago, 29 men and women from Livingston were serving in the military and all survived. Today, she said, Livingston servicemen and women are serving in 165 countries.
As guests celebrated to the tune of “You’re a Grand ‘Ol Flag” and “I’m Proud to be an American” by members of the Livingstones on Saturday, Ratner said she was grateful that the township had the opportunity to honor its current service members.
On behalf of the entire township, Klein thanked all veterans for all they have risked and continue to do for the country.