Livingston's Veterans Tell Their Story in Their Own Words at Library Event

Livingston Military Familes and Friends representing themselves and the veteran community. Credits: Aaron Snyder
Veteran Jerry Wolfe speaks to the audience. Credits: Aaron Snyder
Bunny Ratner and Jesse Kirsch present the film to the crowd. Credits: Aaron Snyder

LIVINGSTON, NJ- It was an emotional night for those who attended the 'Livingston's Military Heroes In Their Own Words' event at the Livingston Public Library on the evening of May 22. "Livingston's Military Heroes In Their Own Words" is a documentary film made by a collection of Livingston High School students which tells the stories of 15 war veterans from WWII all the way up to the Afghanistan War.

Bunny Ratner of the Livingston Bicentennial Committee hosted the event, and also helped produce the film. “The veterans were the focus of this film,” she said to audience members, “if it weren't for our veterans, we wouldn't have a bicentennial.”

The director and head producer of the film was LHS student Jesse Kirsch, who said, “Pivotal to this process was the veterans. Preserving stories is a topic I hold very dearly.” Social studies teacher Ernest Cuneo from LHS narrated the film, setting the audience up with the facts behind the armed conflicts in which Livingston's veterans were.

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Rudoplh Berman, a World War II veteran, shared his war experience and how he "spoke German, so I was always with the officers to help translate."  Berman also explained how he also baked for them and then later made a career out of it when he returned home. He was joined with fellow WWII veterans Ralph Bonanno, Nicholas Pulitano, and Elsie Richelieu, who served as a nurse, in the film.

Korean war veterans John E. Michaels and Stanley Grabowski were also represented in the film. Michaels told his story of how he had to parachute out of a plane. When he did, it turned out a joke was being played on him, and when he “leapt” from the aircraft it turned out the plane was still on the ground, and he landed on several servicemen and his parachute.

On a more serious note, Vietnam veterans Brian Boyle, Charles Tahaney, and Alan Karpas discussed the hardships they faced during and after the war, particularly when they had arrived home to civilian life. “You didn't really hear much about what was going on back home,” Tahaney spoke in the film, remarking on the protests going on in the United States.

Desert Storm veterans Jerrard Stevenson and Lynn A. Weinberg also made appearances in the film. When asked of her proudest moment in the armed forces, Weinberg spoke of meeting an Iraqi infant a mother was introducing to her through a car window. “The feeling was indescribable,” she said.

Drill instructor Victor Tse was also in the film, however still on duty so he made his appearance through audio. He served in the Afghanistan War.

Thomas Bucca and Antonio Ciccone also starred in the documentary, both serving in the Iraq War. At the end of the film, Ciccone expressed his gratitude, “I just want to say thank you to everyone."

Other veterans who did not appear in the film were in attendance, including Maurice Baur, who found “the film to be very touching.” Other veterans in the audience included Jerry Wolfe and Fred Pazzini, who served in the US Navy in WWII.

Ernie Cuneo was touched by the words of the veterans in attendance. “Thanks to all the veterans, I was so proud to be apart of it. It came out great! In my 14 years of teaching at Livingston, this is one of the best things I have ever been apart of.”

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