Tri-Vets honored at Veterans Day Ceremony
HAMMONTON—The Hammonton Tri-Vets held a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Hammonton Middle School.
The Hammonton Tri-Vets is made up of the American Legion F.A. Funston Post 186, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 66 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Passalaqua Post 1026.
Masters of Ceremony John DeLucca and John Griffee welcomed everyone to the Veterans Day ceremony.
“Today’s solemn ceremony is dedicated to honor all veterans who serve our great country and especially those who gave their lives to ensure our freedom,” DeLucca said.
Everyone then stood up for the presentation of colors by the Tri-Vets of Hammonton.
After the presentation of colors, people recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Next, Victory Bible Church Pastor Anthony Parise gave an invocation.
“We thank you for this night that we can remember our veterans. We thank you for this group and this community that keeps this alive. We just want to honor them,” Parise said.
Parise asked for blessings for each of the veterans.
After the blessing, Robin Pellott and Jaymee Lewis sang the National Anthem.
Griffee asked the audience to recognize members of town council, veterans, police department, fire department, Sons of Italy, Knights of Columbus, M.B. Taylor Lodge, Lions Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls and American Legion Riders.
Councilman Thomas Gribbin then gave a speech on behalf of Mayor Stephen DiDonato and town council.
“I want to thank our Hammonton Tri-Vets, our veterans, our distinguished guests, fellow Hammontonians, happy Veterans Day,” Gribbin said. “I’ve had the honor of speaking at this event over the last several years, and it is an honor that I’m grateful for.”
Gribbin said he was in Las Vegas at a law enforcement conference where he spoke with over 200 police officers all over the country, and many were also veterans.
“Each time I pass or encounter a service person in uniform, I made it a point to stop and thank them for their service,” Gribbin said.
Gribbin said he brought his daughters to the ceremony to feel the same sense of gratitude and patriotism he feels for our veterans.
During his speech, Gribbin quoted President Ronald Reagan who said, “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they made a difference in the world, but the marines don’t have that problem.”
“I would extend President Reagan’s quote to all branches of our military. Because of your sacrifice and service, you have made our country the strongest nation in the world. And my gratitude, all our gratitude, cannot fully be expressed by the words we speak tonight,” Gribbin said.
Gribbin asked everyone to extend a hand to veterans and thank them for their service.
“May God bless our veterans, and may God continue to bless the United States of America,” Gribbin said.
Guest speaker and Iraq veteran Ryan Luurtsema, who is a program manager of Airman and Family Readiness to the 177th Fighter Wing, gave a speech. He served in the U.S. Army for eight years from 2008 to 2016 as an ordinance specialist and human resources manager.
Luurtsema previously gave a speech during the 2016 Veterans Day ceremony about military and veterans transitioning into higher education and how difficult that can be.
“Veterans Day was planned in Nov. 11, 1954 by President [Dwight] Eisenhower to supersede Armistice Day. That honor those service members who were called to arms for World War I and thereafter to those who made it home and those that died that served their individual calling,” Luurtsema said. “Today, we have over 18 million citizens who are called to arms and serve this great nation. Eighteen million of those veterans upon completing their service have asked the same question to themselves and fellow brothers and sisters, ‘What now?’ ‘What now?’ is distinct across every branch, every creed, every woman and man that dawn their service cloth.”
After Luurtsema retired from the army in 2016, he asked himself the same question.
During his speech, Luurtsema said veterans have an actionable reason to push through the hardest of times that is what is next and find a calling to mentor, educate and enact change in and out of uniform.
“To my marines and sailors, semper fi. Semper fidelis to all those that come before you and as you pave your way forward, you tow the line with me and all the years in the sand, mud, rain, heat, cold and wet,” Luurtsema said. “Allow your creed to push you through the needed moments and darkest of times. Push your crest into your chest and feel the excitement once again.”
Luurtsema challenged the audience to have actionable purpose.
“Create the purpose for one another. Create the purpose to ensure that a veteran doesn’t go unknowing and a veteran doesn’t go unguided. You may actually save that person’s life and therefore after will save another,” Luurtsema said.
During the ceremony, Atlantic County Fifth District Commissioner James Bertino gave a speech.
“We gather this evening to honor the men and women who have worn this nations uniform.
More importantly, we join together to thank them for their service and their devotion to duty and country. Whether they served in war or peace, Americans veterans all share a common bond and their unwavering belief in the cause of freedom,” Bertino said.
Bertino said veterans are our nations unsung heroes.
“Our veterans have missed the birth of their children, wedding anniversaries and graduations. They’ve spent holidays in soggy rice patties in Vietnam, in the sands of Iraq and desert and in the cold mountains of eastern Europe. May we always be grateful to those brave American patriots who suffered in sacrifice for the glory of God and for the freedom of all Americans,” Bertino said.
Frank Calletta, the commander of American Legion Post 186, acknowledged the wreaths, which include Veterans of Foreign Wars Passalaqua Post 1026, American Legion Post 186, Scaltrito-Castone Disabled American Veterans Chapter 66, Hammonton Police Department, Hammonton Fire Department, Sons of Italy, Hammonton Lions Club, M.B. Taylor Lodge and Trail USA Troop.
The ceremony concluded with the color guard exiting with the flags.