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On Saturday September 17, 2016, the town of Galloway held its sixteenth annual Salute to Veterans ceremony and barbeque. Veterans from all over Galloway gathered at the Veteran’s Memorial Park, Glen by the Bay, for a ceremony to honor them for their service as well as to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Master of ceremonies Steve Stokes, from the Galloway Veterans Advisory Board welcomed everyone by introducing the people who made this day happen. Galloway Veterans Advisory Board members Ike Rucker, Chairman, Tony Coppola Jr., Councilman, Robert Maldonado, Councilman, Timothy Meadows Sr., Councilman, Russell Konrady, Lenny Long, Justin Vidal, Galloway Community Services Staff Beth Stasuk, Jennifer DiLuzio and Jennifer Hahn, The Mayor Don Purdy, Councilmans Frank Gargione, Tony DiPietro, and Rich Clute. The heart felt ceremony began with Absecon VFW Post 9462 honor guard posting the colors and the Boy Scouts of Galloway and Smithville leading the pledge of allegiance. When the National Anthem sung by Jim Craine of Smithville began, from the oldest to the youngest stood in honor. Guest speaker, Marco Polo Smigliani, a four-time recipient of the Purple Heart, a United States Marine, A Veterans Advocate and an American Patriot spoke about what it means to be an American to him, Marco who came from a small town in Italy, came to America and served proudly in the Marine Corps for this great nation. Marco spoke about all walks of life from all parts of the world who come to the United States and make up who and what Americans are, a diverse group of people who come together and create this great nation, the crowd was emotionally moved by a strong from the heart speech written by himself and his wife. The wreath presentation by Galloway Township Middle School Student council commenced and the Absegami High School Choir lead by director, Mrs. Cheryl Breitzman sang a beautiful patriotic song. The Choir attends every event in Galloway and performs from the heart and it shows in their young eyes the pride they have for our township, their school, their country and those who fight and have fought for their freedoms. We are so proud and pleased to have such wonderful young people represent our community at these special events.
Honors were bestowed upon all the Veterans in attendance and those who were there in spirit by Rolling Thunder presentation Paul Berenotto, President of the Rolling Thunder Ch4 of NJ, when he spoke these words: “The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our missing soldiers. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering their country’s call to duty. The single red rose, in the vase, signifies the blood they had shed to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. The red ribbon tied so prominently on the base is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapels and breast of thousands who bore witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. A slice of lemon, on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in foreign land. A pinch of salt, symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families seeking answers. The bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as One Nation Under GOD. The Candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, by and into the open arms of a grateful nation. The glass, are inverted, they cannot toast with us today. The chairs, are empty, they are not here. Remember ALL, you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid and relied upon them. Those whose freedom they fought for, Remember them for surely, they have not forsaken you”.
Without a dry eye, the crowd was directed to the members of Last Salute Military Funeral Honor Guard of VFW Post 9462 for the rendering of military honors. Honors began with Last Salute Sergeant at Arm Chuck Knutson, ordering the firing of the cannon “The Jaime Lee” by 177th Fighter Wing Colonel Daniel Mitola, Staff Judge Advocate. The Last Salute bell rang three times and the VFW Post 9462 Honor Guard fired three volleys followed by the beautiful sound of Heather Berchtold’s playing Taps. Sergeant at Arms Chuck Knutson of Galloway along with Lance Corporal Kyle Ragland of Atlantic City, performed the final rendering of military honors, as the crowd stood perfectly silent, Last Salute unfolded a flag presented it to the crowd, refolded it, placed it upon the memorial, and rendered the final Last Salute. Veterans in the crowd were standing at attention and a sense of pride overwhelmed their faces as they remember those they served with who did not come home.
The conclusion of the ceremony was truly a pull at your heartstring moment. The Veterans Advisory Board invited the Veterans and their families to attend the wonderful spread of food prepared by Chef Joe DiLuzio and the Galloway Community Services Staff, Beth Stasuk, Jennifer DiLuzio, Jennifer Hahn and all of their volunteers.