Neighbors' tribute

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    WEST MILFORD n Bald Eagle Commons is a community of several hundred couples and individuals. Part of that senior citizens' development is composed of individual homes, plus a number of multi-unit apartment houses. The apartment house at 6 Richmond Road consists of more than 70 units. Essentially, it is a small community within the larger one that comprises Bald Eagle Commons. In the lobby of each apartment building is a replica of a horse drawn wagon. It is used by the interior design firm retained by the complex as a convenient focus for seasonal ornamentations. But in Building Six there is a small but active committee that uses the wagon for holiday observances. This week, the wagon and lobby are bringing together many of the residents with a display honoring those veterans with ties to their little community. Some 20 veterans from various conflicts and periods of service are remembered with a display that includes star-spangled bunting, flags, portraits of the vets, military medals, and other memorabilia. Two of the focal points include a Purple Heart framed under glass, four medals representing the Victory Medal from World War II, the American and Asiatic Pacific Theaters and the 50th Anniversary of WWII. Also represented are the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, WACS and WAVES, and veterans from World War II, plus the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Organized by a small committee with Howard Fahner at the helm and primarily assisted by Mary Ann DeKoek and Dot Mix, the group began with just a few photos and items from veterans who live there, or from resident widows of servicemen. Then, things took on a life of their own. Just 10 days before Memorial Day, they placed some red, white and blue skirting on the wagon, and a lone picture of a veteran. By the second day, other pictures were added. Some 20 veteran pictures, sometimes with the tanks and ships on which they served, were displayed, as well as a Purple Heart medal, a picture of its recipient, Thomas Spellman, and other memorabilia. As of Tuesday, there were 35 veterans being remembered, plus such memorabilia as a New York Times issue relating the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, depictions of an Arlington National Cemetery burial, and a statue of Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag. As ‘memorials' go in this age of overabundance, it is a small memorial. Yet its impact is significant because it was assembled, not with massive amounts of money, but from the memories and lives of those who live there and their loved ones who served, and sometimes died, for this country.