NEWTON, NJ—The Town of Newton honored its veterans, past and present with its first annual Flags of Honor dedication Ceremony on Saturday, November 9 at the municipal building.  Residents had a hand in the display, having submitted the names of veterans to be represented by a flag. 

The Newton Fire Department A large American flag flew over the ceremony from the extended ladder of the Newton Fire Department truck. 

Town Manager Thomas S. Russo Jr. started the ceremony introducing the American Legion Post 86 Honor Guard to present the colors.  Eight-year-old, Mia Sanchez sang the National Anthem.

Sign Up for Newton Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Deacon Thomas Zayac, from St. Joseph’s Church did the Invocation. “Gracious Father, we come to you on this special occasion as we celebrate the flags of honor, in support and remembrance of those who have given their youth, the strength, their families, and in some cases, their health and even their lives, in protection of our great nation…Help us this day, to properly honor those to whom honor is due…we pray in a very special way for those veterans who have been left physically disabled and for those injured by the unseen wounds of the mind, those who suffer from depression, PTSD and emotional disorders. We pray for veterans in homeless shelters, or out on the street, suffering from wounds they do not understand or deserve. Give them comfort, protect them from hunger, lack of shelter and the scorn of those who pass by them…we pray for the families of all those who have served or are currently serving in the military…we pray for the families and friends of those who have given their very lives while in service.”

Russo said he had participated in the Flag of Honor initiative in his home town.  He said he was so impressed that he wanted the same expression of patriotism to be available to Town of Newton. He had seen the financial and emotional support “given for a most worthy cause.”

“Community Hope’s efforts to provide housing to homeless and at-risk veterans,” Russo said. “Everyone supported the idea and I would like to recognize the tireless efforts of Michele Estremera, Kathryn Walker, Department of Public Works, Newton Police Department and many others.”

The proceeds that were made through the purchasing of the flags in memory of the honorees, which were $30 each, were donated to the Community Hope, Inc, which includes the Hope for Veterans Program, which ensures a safe haven for homeless and disabled Veterans every day.

Mayor Helen LeFois said a few words as well, thanking the veterans. “As a daughter, granddaughter, stepdaughter, daughter-in-law and niece of American veterans, this day and this event hold a special meaning for me. Today we honor family members, friends and neighbors whose service and sacrifice have allowed all of us to be safe and enjoy the freedoms that many of other lands cannot enjoy.”

LeFois said her father’s experience coming home from having served in Vietnam was vastly different from the atmosphere of gratitude for the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. 

“We live in a time that is different now, as a community, as individuals and as Americans, we can be different,” LeFois said. “Don’t be shy to thank a veteran for their service when you see them in public, pay for their cup of coffee as a token of appreciation, visit our veterans in the hospital, where they feel alone and forgotten and support organizations that are doing great work to support our heroes and their families.”

A representative from Congressman Josh Gottheimer’s office presented the town with a congressional certificate of recognition for the Flags of Honor Event.

Community of Hope’s Executive Director, Carmine V Deo also expressed gratitude for the Flags of Honor initiative in Newton.

“I just wanted to say thank you to all the veterans who are here today and for your service, as well as the family members for their sacrifice. It’s great for us to appreciate the freedom that they sacrificed and served for,” Deo said. “I also want to thank Newton, the Mayor and the council, and everyone who was involved in the ceremony, it is an amazing showing of everyone’s commitment to veterans and veteran families.”

According to Deo, Community Hope was founded back in 1985. Their work is focused around people with serious mental illness and homeless veterans. They provide homeless prevention, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing services for veterans and veteran families.

The Bagpipes were played by Newton Police Department Special Officer Class II, Stephen Moran, which was followed by Russo reading the names of the following honorees.

  • Michael P Boynton
  • Robert Carlton
  • William Chymiy
  • Frank DeMauro, Sr.
  • Allan Doane
  • James Drew
  • Sgt. Gary Emmich
  • Russel English
  • Robert Gallopo
  • Army Specialist Jason Hattersley
  • Gunnery Sgt. Lawrence J. Hattersley Sr.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence J. Hattersley III
  • Jacob Kaplan
  • Robert G. LeFois
  • Carl “Bud” Luthman
  • Jerry Mauro
  • Peter J. McCarthy
  • C. Edward McCracken
  • Russel McCue
  • Peter McFarlane
  • Jack McGuigan
  • Staff Sgt. George J Montalto, Jr.
  • Arthur Nelson
  • Starling “Rick” Nothstine
  • William Place
  • Edward Pomerantz
  • Christine C Robertozzi
  • Earl Schick III
  • John Sepe
  • Staff Sgt. John Sherba
  • Charles Sills
  • Anthony J. Simos
  • Ed Stickles
  • Senior Airman Michael Terrell
  • Sgt. Sara Terrell
  • Frank Thomas
  • Ronald VanHise
  • John Villari
  • Dick Wilson
  • Wallace Wirths

The American Legion Post 86 Honor Guard rang the honor bell, followed by a Rifle Salute and Taps to close the ceremony.

Russo thanked all those in attendance and all those who were honored. A light luncheon was served inside the municipal building after the ceremony concluded.