MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Students at Deerfield School honored veterans at their annual Veterans Day ceremony in the field outside the school on Monday. Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7th) and members of VFW Post 10136, and local government officials were in attendance. 

This ceremony came early this year because school will be on break for the New Jersey Teachers Convention on Veterans Day, which falls on Friday, November 11.

People all over the United States think about the great sacrifices that have been made by our soldiers and service men and women who give their time, talent, and even their lives for our freedom..

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The ceremony began with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance  led by Claudia Schneider and the Deerfield Band played the national anthem, sung by Lillian Jiang. Principal Kim Richards welcomed the guests and Congressman Lance provided some historical context for Veterans Day which, he noted, was once called Armistice Day and was originally intended to celebrate the Allies’ victory in WWI and honor those Americans who died in that conflict.

 After Congressman Lance addressed the crowd, VFW Post Commander Timothy S. McLaughlin and Major Healy spoke. Major Healy spoke to the students from a veteran's perspective -- specifically about pride, unity, service and sacrifice. (See speech below.)

The ceremony came to a closing with the school chorus singing "Battle Hymm of the Republic."

Everyone, especially the veterans, were invited to a reception inside the school, after which the VFW presented the winners and runners-up with their awards from the Patriot's Pen contest. Award recipients were Louis Oddie, Helen Zhang and Maja Dinic.

The public is invited to join Mountainside Veterans in the Dedication of the Mountainside Veterans Memorial Park at Consitution Plaza (adjacent to the Mountainside Library) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 12. 

~Major Healy ~

I’d like to talk to about Veterans Day, from the veterans perspective. Specifically, I’d like to talk about pride, unity, service and sacrifice.

PRIDE

I take great pride in being a veteran. I was fortunate to have served in the greatest military in the world, and arguably in the history of the world. Our military capabilities and strength are unmatched by any country of the world. However, it’s not just our strength that gives me pride in our military. I’ve been fortunate to have been in the National Guard when we have been called out to help two of six our communities. Nothing gave me more pride than being able to help our fellow citizens in times of struggle. We also help overseas, from earthquakes in Pakistan to hurricanes in Haiti, your military is there helping people. I was in Iraq when that country conducted its second free election in 2010, Two more elections than most countries in that region have held in their history. The smile on my Iraqi Army friend’s face, when he held up his finger that was dyed purple to signify he had voted, remains a fond memory to this day. The American military has always been a symbol of freedom and trust to the oppressed around the world. We all can take pride in that.

UNITY

The next topic I’d like to address is unity. Veterans have a unique perspective on diversity and team building. When we join the military, we come together with people from 3 of 6 across the United States. We are forged together into one company, one ship, one squadron. All our efforts are coordinated to help support accomplishing a common goal. We may not all be friends, indeed sometimes we flat out don’t like some people with whom we’ve served. But attack one of us and all of us will defend our brothers and sisters in arms. In the end, we are all Americans who come together for each other. Hopefully in this divisive environment, we can set a good example for the rest of our country.

SACRIFICE

Finally, I’d like to talk about sacrifice. All veterans have sacrificed, some in small ways, while others have paid with their lives. Some veterans have trouble returning home. An estimated 50,000 veterans are still homeless across the country, which is about 7x the population of 4 of 6 Mountainside, or 2x Westfield. Over 20 veterans a day are killing themselves, far more than the enemy could ever do. For people who have sacrificed so much for our country, that’s just not right. As a country, we need to ensure we do all we can to support those veterans in need of help. An overlooked sacrifice is the ones made by our military families, particularly in the National Guard and Reserve. When I deployed, I had the combined resources of the US military supporting me. The Soldiers in my unit were serving there with me, side by side, able to understand the problems and challenges we faced together. In the Guard and Reserve, when someone is deployed, their family might be the only one affected in the area. There may be no one there to help our families. The family bears the hardest burden of deployment. Get to know the military families in your area, and make sure you give 5 of 6 them thanks for supporting their military wife/husband mom or dad out there defending us all. What are some other ways you can help? You could go visit a VA hospital and just say hello. You could help serve breakfast for our hospitalized vets over at the Elks on the first Sunday of every month. You could write letters or send a care package to a deployed service member. When I was overseas, the walls of my room were covered with pictures kids had drawn. That gave me a smile at the end of every day. CONCLUSION Your nations veterans helped found our country during the American Revolution. They freed Western Europe in World War I, and freed the world in World War II. They kept us free and fought to push back tyrants in the bitter cold of Korea, the hot jungles of Vietnam, and faced down the Soviet Union in Cold War. They freed Kuwait in the 6 of 6 Gulf War. They overthrew the al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Today your military fights evil around the world, particularly against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and they will win and preserve our freedom like they’ve done throughout our history. Thank you again for allowing me to speak on behalf of my fellow veterans. God bless you, God Bless our nation’s veterans, and God Bless the United States of America.