ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – In an 11 minute long ceremony that began at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, both veteran and non-veteran local residents honored all those who served the US military in both war and peacetime.
The ceremony was hosted by the local American Legion Post 141, with Commander Peter Doyle serving as master of ceremonies at the Memorial Park opposite Borough Hall.
Principal speaker was the post chaplain, William Pointon, a Coast Guard veteran who served as a Chief Petty Officer during his eight years in service. During his brief prayers, he called for two separate moments of silence to remember those who did not return.
Doyle also acknowledged that special honors should also be paid to all emergency personnel from fire, police and emergency services, saying “Bullets might not be flying but we are at war against this terrible disease,” praising emergency personnel for all they re doing in an unusual era.
Doyle, who served nine years in Germany and Korea, also noted that the ceremony especially honors the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in addition to the Armistice Day of WWI. He thanked Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny for lowering the flags along Memorial Parkway to half staff today to honor the many deceased veterans from all wars, especially the 14 cited on the Memorial in the Park where the ceremony was held. The half staff presentation of the flag is an option, not a mandate of a local government. This borough traditionally lowers the flag both on Memorial Day, which is mandatory until noon, and Veterans Day so all veterans are remembered and honored.
Doyle called for comments from the crowd, safely distant and masked, to add to the ceremony. Post member Mariela Anderson, retired after 22 years in the Navy, recounted her desire to serve her country after her family moved from Peru to the United States when she was six years old. She said she chose the Navy because of the excellence of the NJROTC program in which she was involved at her Bergen High School, and she has served both active and reserve duty as a boatswain mate in Kuwait, Afghanistan and during Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.
Bill Leyes, a non-veteran, recalled his father’s advice to always respect the military and all they gave for the country, citing the time when he was eight years old and his father told him to stand tall and be still in honor of military in a parade they were attending. “I realized then, and it was the beginning of my journey to always realize, the importance of our military and the thanks we owe them,” he told the crowd.
Also present for the ceremony were retired Army Capt. Ellen O’Dwyer, a recent candidate for Atlantic Highlands Council, Hubeny, Police Chief Dave Rossbach and members of the department, along with Councilmembers Lori Hohenleitner, Jon Crowley and Brian Boms.