PATERSON, NJ- While TAPinto Paterson has been honoring local veterans over the past several days, the Diocese of Paterson, took time on October 28 to recognize veterans from throughout Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties.

Saying that the gathering at St. John the Baptist Cathedral was only possible because of the sacrifice of veterans that “fought for our rights to practice religion and recognize free speech,” John Harris, Passaic County’s veterans officer, presided over the unveiling of a monument recognizing their service.

David Pierson, Catholic Family and Community Services, offered his own thanks to the veterans, while also mentioning the contributions of first responders including police officers and firefighters. His organization’s efforts that include homeless programs, clothing closets, and an unmet needs fund wouldn’t be possible, Pierson said, without the “veterans who continue to serve their communities.”

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Monsignor Mark J.Giordani offered the blessing and sprinkled the monument and attendees with Holy Water, but not before Anthony Vancheri, President, Paterson Veterans’ Council, would talk about the needs still facing those that have served. “20 veterans die every day from suicide, 16 of them never seek help,” Vancheri told those gathered.

Speaking also to the lack of “dignity and respect” shown to female veterans, and suggesting that together they could do more, Vancheri added, “We can make things happen, but we need to communicate.”

Asked later about the significance of making the monument, which faces Main Street, visible to the public Vancheri suggested that it’s important to offer passersby the opportunity to pay their respects to veterans and “remember those that served.”

In America, Vancheri concluded, every religion is practiced and language spoken.

“We may not be perfect, but people died for that freedom. We can’t forget that.”