MONTVILLE, NJ – The veterans of Montville Township VFW Post 5481 led residents in the commemoration of Veterans Day at a moving ceremony on Nov. 11. The ceremony, held at the Montville Township Community Park with the post’s tank as the backdrop, also included the dedication of a monument to those veterans who served in the war on terror.

The monument was the idea of former post commander Frank Warholic, according to Township Committeeman Frank Cooney, who spoke at the ceremony. Funding for the monument was provided by the Montville Township PBA #140. Cooney also thanked the Township Committee, Township Administrator Victor Canning, Lieutenant Carlo Marucci and Detective William Vanderhoof for their help in establishing the monument.

Warholic read a letter from Landi Simone, mother of Adrian Simone, a Marine who lost his legs fighting in Afghanistan. The Simone family are residents of Montville Township, and Landi wrote in part,

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“Every one of us remembers where we were and what we were doing on that terrible morning [of 9/11/01] […]. My son Adrian, only nine years old on that day, lost his legs in Afghanistan ten years later while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Tentacles of terror have stretched out from 9/11 across not only our nation, but across the world, touching millions of lives. My son, now a senior at MSU with a history major, could have told you all the causes, history, and statistics, had he been free to attend this gathering. I can only tell you of my own heartache as a mother, the pride I felt, the tears I wept, the joy, as I saw my son walk again with prosthetic legs.

“Our military put themselves at enormous risk in fighting this war. And yet they continue to volunteer, to go wherever they are sent, to leave family and friends to fight in foreign countries where their next step could take their legs, or their lives. And they do it for us. They do it so there will be barbecues to come home to, and baseball games, and safety for their loved ones, and peace. They ask nothing in return and the truth is that there is nothing we can offer that is equal to what has been given.

“But every citizen of this town and of this country who deserves to call themselves an American should acknowledge a debt than can never be paid to every veteran who has served, not only in the war on terror, but in every conflict our country has waged.”

Father Dominic of St. Pius X blessed the monument.

Resident Nick Sisco led the crowd in a moving version of the National Anthem. Trinity Christian School sang “You’re a Grand Ole Flag,” “This Land is Your Land,” and “Thank You, Soldiers!” The Trinity students also placed flags representing each branch of the military that the VFW commemorates each year: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marines and Navy.

Rabbi Mark Finkel of the Pine Brook Jewish Center gave the Invocation. He asked for guidance for the leaders of our country and to banish hatred and bigotry.

Deputy Mayor Richard Conklin thanked the VFW post members and said, “We gather here once a year to formally recognize our veterans. I also have to think about the remaining 364 days in the year that we work, play, travel, and enjoy the freedom and quality of life that this great country offers. We owe this freedom to all those who have served throughout the years, from our first battle at Lexington and Concord to the present conflicts in the Middle East.”

Warholic also called attention to those veterans who were POW, MIA, and the unknown soldiers. He said they are “forever ours and they are our own, as they fought and died for us.”

Warholic called for Americans to unite once again.

“As you know, many celebrities take it upon themselves that it’s ok to disparage and disrespect our anthem, our flag, our nation,” said Warholic. “They say, ‘well, it’s my First Amendment right.' They seem to forget that you have the right to rebuke them, and I do. But it seems when you do, you’re the enemy of those who disrespect the nation.

“Our flag, which is not just cloth on a stick, our national anthem, our Pledge of Allegiance, and our Constitution, are not to be condemned,” he said, “because they encompass Americans’ unity and sovereignty. This anti-American divisiveness, one way or another, must be halted.”

Post Commander Charles Ferry read the poem “What is a Vet?,” author unknown.

“He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, palsied now and aggravatingly slow, who helped to liberate a Nazi death camp, and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come,” Ferry read.

“So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say ‘thank you’; that's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded,” Ferry read.

“May America be filled with thanksgiving and praise for members of our military, and I’m also going to add members of our police departments,” Warholic said. “God bless our military, America, and our veterans.”

To see portions of the ceremony, click: