SPARTA, NJ – On the eleventh day of the eleventh month this country celebrates Veteran’s Day.  Sparta VFW hosts a commemoration each year, inviting the community to remember, and celebrate. On Saturday more than 50 people gathered at the monument in front of the Sparta VFW. 

Cold temperatures rearranged the program a bit.  Everyone was invited inside to hear a few speeches.  Commander Pete Litchfield opened the ceremony, with a few words of welcome.

“We honor the veterans who have lost their lives and celebrate those who have survived and are still with us,” Litchfield said. 

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Thanking the police officers that were present, Litchfield said, “You don’t get to be named one of the safest towns in New Jersey by just thinking about it.  Thanks to the police who remain vigilant and keep us safe.”

Marty Schweigart, Navy veteran gave the invocation.

Sparta Attorney and retired Marine Dan Colfax made a few remarks as well. 

“All of those who have signed up have served, whether in combat or not,” Colfax began.  “We often say the greatest generation is those who served in World War II.  I would say [the greatest generation] was all of those who served.”

Colfax told the group he had to wait two years after 9/11 to be called up. 

“Now many don’t have a dog in the fight,” Colfax said. “Being a citizen is getting to the hard truth and holding fast to the truth.”

He spoke a cautionary tale about people not willing to understand consequences of decisions made and comments uttered. 

“You have to teach it [honor of service] to the kids,” Colfax said.  “They are not learning it in school.  We have to teach them to be involved with their community.

“I’m asking you to defend and protect the constitution and protect American exceptionalism, the ability to serve and protect.  To project might for right,” Colfax said.  “We are in the position with our young people to be there again.”

Schweigart read an essay titled ‘Just a Common Soldier,’ concluding “They are soldiers and they never took a knee.”

Sparta Mayor Gil Gibbs thanked the VFW for the work they have done recently to refurbish the facilities. 

To the Sparta Police Officers in the room Gibbs said, “Chief you’re just like a vet.  If it weren’t for you doing your job and helping our town stay safe, we couldn’t be here today.”

Gibbs concluded his remarks reminding people to thank a veteran for their service, especially “remember the ones who we don’t know served.”

The group went out to the monument for the pledge of allegiance, national anthem played by bugle, a musket salute from the civil war reenactors present and a wreath laying ceremony. 

With the ceremony concluded everyone was invited for a barbecue back inside.