Peacetime punctuates history of veterans

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Marine Lt. Col. Eric Davis delivers keynote address. Marine Lt. Col. Eric Davis delivers keynote address.

GALLOWAY – Marine Lt. Col. Eric Davis was on the first plane into Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1992 and he was the last battalion commander to leave Iraq in 2010.

Monday, Nov. 12 he was the Veterans Day keynote speaker before a packed council chambers – who heard of the importance of honoring all veterans.

“Most veterans served honorably for four years during times of peace,” Davis said. “Veterans Day honors them as much as it honors combat veterans or those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

The military, he said, serves as a deterrent during times of peace.

“I am sure that bad actors around the globe think twice, knowing that America’s military stands ready, willing and able to step in when called,” Davis said.

The lieutenant colonel told those in attendance the history of Veterans Day – how it started out as Armistice Day in 1918 at the end of World War I.

“The fact that the war’s name had to be changed indicates a failure of the goal to end all wars,” Davis said. “The United States led the way in establishing Nov. 11 as a holiday. It became a federal holiday in 1938. In 1954 it was changed to Veterans Day.”

He said that peace is a goal not often accomplished.

“World history could aptly be described as war, punctuated by short periods of peace,” Davis said. “We in the United States are fortunate to experience long periods of peace.”

Somalia was unbelievable, he said.

Greeters at Galloway Council Chambers are Troop 26 Boy Scouts Jake Stiteler, left, and Zachary Stiles and Pack 76 Cub Scouts, Chris Nuse, left, and Emmett Shellhorn. Greeters at Galloway Council Chambers are Troop 26 Boy Scouts Jake Stiteler, left, and Zachary Stiles and Pack 76 Cub Scouts, Chris Nuse, left, and Emmett Shellhorn.

“Americans have no comprehension of anarchy,” Davis said. “The pilot said to set your clocks back 200 years. Two thousand was more like it. There was a city of a million without electricity, running water, sewage.”

Routine life was what we might call roughing it on camping trips according to Davis.

“You could try to grow a garden,” he said. “But only if you could defend it 24/7. No schools, no libraries, no government – no hope.”

He said we gave the people a chance and that is the essence of what the military tries to do throughout the world.

“In both Iraq and Afghanistan, we tried to improve the life of the average citizen,” Davis said. “We freed people from dictators, built schools and improved living conditions for many, especially for women and girls.”

The jury is still out in the latter two countries, he said.

“We can only hope that the sacrifices veterans made are not in vain,” said Davis, who as a civilian is supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s New Jersey Field Office.

Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola was master of ceremonies Monday. The invocation and benediction were presented by Rev. Philip McClelland, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church.

Jim Craine sings the national anthem. Behind him are, from left, Miss Teen Galloway Courtney Jack, Marine Corps Veteran Ike Rucker and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola. Jim Craine sings the national anthem. Behind him are, from left, Miss Teen Galloway Courtney Jack, Marine Corps Veteran Ike Rucker and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola.

Pack 76 Cub Scouts, Troop 26 Boy Scouts and Galloway Township Middle School student leaders headed the Pledge of Allegiance and presenting of a wreath.

Jim Craine sang the national anthem and local Marine Corps veteran Ike Rucker’s “In All of My Colorful Majesty.”

Cheryl Breitzman directed the Absegami High School Chorus in two numbers.

VFW Post 10620 Cmdr. Leonard Long spoke.

Miss Teen Galloway Courtney Jack recited the poem, “The Missing Link,” by local writer Dee Scerni.

Firefighter Joseph Ward played “Taps.”

While Veterans Day was Sunday, Nov. 11, it was honored throughout Galloway the following day, the township held its celebration, at the traditional time of 11 a.m. A luncheon followed the ceremony in the Municipal Complex Historical Room.

The Smithville Barber Shoppe give out free haircuts to veterans between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Hot dogs were free there, and the nearby Colonial Inn served free drinks. The Absegami High School Band and a barbershop quartet performed.

Fred and Ethel's Lantern Light Tavern offer free loaded fries and nachos for veterans and the Smithville Inn gave them free appetizers with dinner.

Celina's Mulberry Market and Grill gave veterans 10-percent-off coupons Monday.

At Richard Stockton College, there were speeches, a helicopter flyover and a Coast Guard rescue boat on display – as well as a luncheon and awards presentation.

Mayor Don Purdy, left, introduces local soldier, Capt. Ryan Price, home for a short visit between his third and fourth overseas tours of duty. Mayor Don Purdy, left, introduces local soldier, Capt. Ryan Price, home for a short visit between his third and fourth overseas tours of duty.

Cheryl Breitzman directs the Absegami High School Choir. Cheryl Breitzman directs the Absegami High School Choir.

VFW Post 10620 Cmdr. Leonard Long addresses the group. VFW Post 10620 Cmdr. Leonard Long addresses the group.

Miss Teen Galloway Courtney Jack reads a poem by Dee Scerni. Miss Teen Galloway Courtney Jack reads a poem by Dee Scerni.


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