SPARTA, NJ – The cool, misty, cloudy weather seemed appropriate for the sobriety of the day. Nearly 50 people gathered in front of the VFW hall on Main Street to observe Veterans Day. 

The new commander Peter Litchfield led the ceremony. Ed Maske, a Civil War re-enactor from the 3 New Jersey Infantry, started the ceremony firing his long gun.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by veterans Sparta Police Officer Brian Hassloch, Post Vice-Commander John Finkeldie, Vincent Householder and Rudi Bethmann. 

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Dan Colfax, retired Marine, addressed the crowd. The decorated Iraq War veteran reminded the assembled of the need to instill an understanding of the value of service in our children and grandchildren. He said he was grateful for the recent resurgence in what it means to serve. He spoke of the current political climate with recent demonstrations on college campuses that threatened the First Amendment right to free speech and Presidential candidates who are not worried about political correctness. In closing, Colfax said, “Freedom is not free.”

Veteran Marty Schwiechardt gave a prayer for the veterans and their families. 

A wreath was laid at the VFW monument by John Middleton of the Sparta Elks Lodge. Flowers were also placed at the monument by Jill Knaus member of the VFW Post.

Chief Ernie Reigstad and Mayor Jerry Murphy were at the ceremony.  

A number of young children were brought to the Veterans Day observances.  Some came from the Montessori school across the street and there was a family of home schooled children as well. Montessori students brought red white and blue bead necklaces to give to the veterans.  

Many veterans came to the Sparta VFW Post’s observance events. 

Frank Mooney, accompanied by his wife, was in attendance.  Mooney served in the Pacific in WWII from 1942 through 1944. 

Sylvester  Golembiewski, also accompanied by his wife, sat with the Mooney’s for the ceremony.  Golembiewski served in the 106 Infantry in Europe and was a POW from the Battle of the Bulge. 

Commander Sgt Major Hydene Wright attended.  She is the Garrison Sgt Major at Picatinny Arsenal. 

Blue Knights Joe Riccardi, Gary Sullivan and Raymond W King came for the ceremony and stayed for the luncheon.  Former Commander John Durkot had prepared the chicken for a luncheon served after the service.  There were salads and Bethmann manned the grill preparing hamburgers. 

Timothy Good, a veteran who served 40 years ago said he had never attended a Veterans Day observance before. 

Duan Perrelli had served in the Air Force in Vietnam.  “I don’t talk about myself,” he said.  “I talk about my brother who was killed in Vietnam.  People need to remember.”