SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Memorial Day honors the lives of those lost in battle and the borough marked this Memorial Day by unveiling a new addition to its Memorial Walkway on Summerhill Road on May 28. A Battlefield Cross now stands in the middle of the walkway dedicated to the service of men and women who served their country in all of the US armed conflicts since the American Revolution. While the park with its memorials, flags and fountain are a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made for freedom, longtime borough resident and Vietnam veteranTravis Fryzowicz felt something was missing after a visit to a veterans memorial park in Richmond, Indiana. A Battlefield Memorial with a soldier's boots and a down-turned rifle with a helmet on the handle caught Fryzowicz's eye and the Marine embarked on journey to bring one to the borough.
The emergence of the Battlefield Cross is a subject of conjecture with historians with some feeling it first made its appearance during the Civil War, marking the spot where a fallen soldier needed to be retrieved and buried. By World War I and II, the down-turned gun and helmet still served the same purpose, but took on a new meaning to recognize a life lost.
"It's the first honor a soldier gets," Fryzowicz explained.
In 1991 at the beginning of the Gulf War, the Battlefield Cross began to include boots and dog tags, serving as an international symbol for loss in the line of duty. Despite the term cross, the memorial does not hold any religious significance and is an honor bestowed on all fallen soldiers regardless of their religious background or military affiliation.
Spotswood Mayor Ed Seely, the borough's fire department, EMS, and members from both the American Legion Post 253 and VFW Post 4589 were on hand along with a small group of residents and veterans to attend the annual Memorial Day service that this year included the addition of the Battlefield Cross.
"The freedoms we enjoy have come at a very high price through the years," Seely said in his Memorial Day remarks. "And will likely continue to do so."
For Fryzowicz, the Battlefield Cross is a significant reminder of the saying "All gave some, some gave all." The often used military memorial saying comes from Korean War vet and Purple Heart recipient, Howard William Osterkamp. Osterkamp was wounded in the leg during the Korean War. The Ohio native was actually misdiagnosed by Army doctors and was sent back to the front lines with a fractured leg. Osterkamp served for another four months with a leg broken in two places.
Fryzowicz's mission to bring a Battlefield Cross Memorial to Spotswood began with a number of telephone calls, internet research and a concrete maker in Indiana. The Battlefield Cross was poured in Indiana and shipped to Hatfield, Pennsylvania where Fryzowicz drove to pick it up. He then sanded and stained the 90-pound memorial, which now takes center stage along Spotswood's Memorial Walkway. Fryowicz and his wife also donated the Purple Heart memorial to the borough several years ago.
Spotswood's Memorial Day observances will continue this afternoon with its annual parade down Main Street. The parade begins at 2 p.m. rain or shine at Schweitzer Mauduet on 85 East Main Street and will continue along Main Street to Devoe Avenue. It will conclude at the American Legion Post 253 on Devoe Avenue.
The following Spotswood residents lost their lives in the line of duty and are remembered along with countless others this Memorial Day:
- Spc. Michael Luis Gonzalez - August 28, 2008
- Cpl. Dennis Crane - Marine Corps - June 15, 1968
- Pfc. Gary Richard Buttenbaum - Marine Corps - May 9, 1967
- Pfc. Otto (Skip) William Baumann, Jr. - Army - December 28, 1966
- Pfc. James Brooks Heffron - Marine Corps - August 31, 1966
- Fireman First Class, Willard O. Clark - Navy - May 28, 1945
- Seaman Second Class Reese David Eaton - Navy - October 25, 1942
- Sgt. Walter Burgess - Army - WW2
- Pvt. Rosairo DeStefano - Army - WW2
- Edward Koch, Jr. - WW2