SPARTA, NJ – A crowd assembled on the sidewalk in front of the Sparta VFW on Main Street for the annual Veterans Day observations. With the monument as a backdrop the Boy Scouts of Troop 95 raised the flags with a salute from the long gun of Ed Maske, a Civil War re-enactor from the 3rd New Jersey Infantry.
Commander Peter Litchfield led the crowd of veterans, their families, police officers, children from the Montessori school and others in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by singing of the National Anthem.
Veteran Chaplain Martin Schwiechardt gave the invocation followed by welcoming remarks from Litchfield.
He thanked those in attendance, including the “veterans and first responders as war has touched our shores.” Litchfield spoke of the 650,000 Americans who have fought and died for our country, the 1.4 million wounded veterans, 25,000 of which are still alive along.
Litchfield said we “honor their service and their sacrifices.”
Litchfield welcomed guest speaker, Marine veteran Dan Colfax to the podium. Colfax echoed Litchfield saying “We honor the sacrifice for those with us and those no longer among us.”
He quoted President Ronald Regan’s address at Arlington National Cemetery when he said, “Each of these markers is a tribute to those how have served.” Speaking about current events Colfax said, “I know in my core that this will be a time of reckoning, when our government will serve [the people] …Years from today will be seen as when freedom gained new life, when America was able to reach its potential…”
“We are, for the most part, pacifists. But we also know freedom is not free,” Colfax said. Quoting the Revolutionary War American patriot Dr. Joseph Warren in his address to the Massachusets regiment, “You decide the fortune of America,” Colfax said. “Act worthy of yourselves.”
Colfax concluded, “Thank you always for being faithful.”
Mayor Christine Quinn and Councilman Jerry Murphy, Sparta Elks John Middleton, Sparta VFW Auxiliary Roberta Nobile and Sparta VFW Robin Forte all presented wreaths and flowers at the monument.
Everyone was invited inside for a barbecue of hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and dessert.
Later World War II Veteran John Sterbinsky came to the Sparta VFW with his family. He served from 1939 to 1945 for the 18th Engineers, 1st Calvary Division.
"What an honor it was to spend Veteran's Day with such an important member of our American history," Sparta VFW's Brigit Hasselm said. "We thank all our incredibly brave veterans and active military personnel today and everyday. God Bless America."