Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, described by the Soldier On, non profit organization who owns the facility, as the driving force from Day One for construction of the Gordon Mansfield Community of residential housing for veterans. The following is the talk she gave at the ribbon cutting ceremonies held at the Tinton Falls site Friday.
Duty, Honor, and Patriotism
There are certain words that we hear spoken in solemn speeches or see carved on monuments erected to remind ourselves of noble deeds and those who accomplished them. Words like Honor and Duty and Patriotism. These are all fine words for equally fine occasions and remembrances. But these should be more than just nice words to say. These are things that should guide us throughout our lives and be manifested in our daily actions. One of the ways we can do this is to do our Duty and Honor the Patriotism of all of those who have sacrificed parts of their lives to preserve our freedom. And this Duty goes beyond the days when these men and women wear our uniforms. It is an abiding obligation that continues throughout all of our lives.
Today we take one small but very tangible step in doing our Duty by providing an opportunity for those who have bravely served and sacrificed for us all to have a chance for a better life. It is one way to acknowledge that ours is an abiding obligation and one that we proudly meet. This is just one more way that we can Honor the Patriotism of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers who served in the name of Freedom and to tangibly tell them they will never be forgotten.
This has been a work of many hands and hearts who share this commitment, and I am pleased to single out just a few for their special efforts. It started when retired Coast Guard Captain Don L. Burry called my attention to an article in Officers Magazine about one Jack Downing and an organization called “Soldier On” in Massachusetts. Jack was always willing to “tell the rest of the story!” We then met with Gary Baldwin and eventually Jerry Turning, another one of the main protagonists in this tale. After a poor reception from the towns on Fort Monmouth – enter Jerry Turning – then Mayor of Tinton Falls. He offered 11 acres next to Seabrook with the message: It is the right thing to do!
I can only say that I hope things like this will soon cease to be special occasions. That we will all take up the Duty of providing for our veterans all across this country as a matter of course instead of a special event. In pursuit of that day, I can only turn to those of you who share this vision and continue to fight to see it a reality and say just two words, “Soldier On!”
Lillian G. Burry