Veterans Council wants holidays to focus more on those killed in wars

| 17 Sep 2018 | 04:14

By Ann Genader
WEST MILFORD – Distressed at what they visualize as a lack of public respect and understanding of the reasons for observing Memorial Day and Veterans Day, local veterans are spearheading an education movement.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7198 Commander William (Bill) Johnson and veteran’s activist Pat Loughman appeared before the West Milford Township Council recently.
Both men said they want people to understand the different meaning of the two holidays and how they are celebrated.
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday for remembering people who died in military service while serving the nation. It is observed annually on the last Monday in May.
Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday observed on Nov. 11. It honors veterans who served in the nation’s armed forces during World War I.
Originally the day was known as Armistice Day, marking the end of the war on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
It was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
The veteran’s representatives said they think there is too much emphasis on shopping sales, vacation plans, parades, and merriment on those days and they would like to see more of a focus on the original purpose of the holidays.
They said they want to see Veterans Park on Union Valley Road become a more reverent place for reflection than it has been in recent years.
They proposed replacing the two or three dying trees that were planted to honor individuals killed during previous wars.
Instead of planting new trees they said they want to put in headstones.
The men gave the council photos of the proposed headstones for its review before being placed in the park.
Johnson and Lougman asked the council to see that all requests regarding proposed Veterans Park projects go directly to the Veterans Council.
During the discussion Township Administrator Antoinette Battaglia responded that much of the maintenance has been done through the efforts of the volunteers with approval of the Veterans Council. She said the township staff has also been involved.
For instance, the lawn is cut as part of the township’s lawn maintenance program. Also, a maintenance department worker at town hall is dispatched periodically to spray weed growth at the park. The governing body also gave the Department of Public Works staff permission to remove tree stumps.
Battaglia said she forwarded the tree removal request to DPW Director Ed Steines because many of the personnel in the department are knowledgeable about the removal of trees.
The volunteers will cut down aging, deteriorating trees that are memorials to people who died while serving in the military with the DPW removing the remaining stumps.
Battaglia said she reached out to members of the Veterans Council recognizing that the governing body always instructs them to get the council’s approval before anything is done in the park and they gave its consent.
The Beautification and Recycling Committee also requested information as to who is authorized to use the Veterans Park Trust Fund money for its projects at the park.
Battaglia said that this arrangement was set up in the past with the trust funds managed equally.
The Veterans Council requested that the park not be maintained by any other township appointed committee. They said any requests regarding the park should go to the Veterans Council.