HOLMDEL: Hundreds gathered on Sunday at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Holmdel for the groundbreaking ceremony of the start of the construction phase of the New Jersey Gold Star Family Monument. The monument will serve as a place of reflection and remembrance for all but especially for those whose loved one made the ultimate sacrifice for their county.
In 2013, the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Run For The Fallen formed the New Jersey Gold Star Family Monument Foundation, under the leadership of Gold Star parents Helen and Ken Gurbisz of Eatontown. The Foundation's mission was to design, fund and build a monument to honor the sacrifices of those families who have lost a loved one in defense of our country. The committee also solicited design input from Gold Star Family members. The monument which was designed by Brian Hanlon of Toms River, N.J will be installed in upcoming months and formally dedicated on September 27, 2015.
Sunday's groundbreaking ceremony began with a presentation of the colors by American Legion Frederick Dempsey Post 266 from Neptune. A bagpiper played several patriotic songs at the beginning and the end of the event. A moving version of the National Anthem was sung by Ron Brooks. In addressing the audience, Mr. Gurbisz related how he received a letter from Edith Nowles, who was the sister of WWII Congressional Medal Of Honor winner and Monmouth County resident Horrace "Buddy" Thorne. Mr. Thorne lost his life at the Battle Of The Bulge in WWII. In the letter, Mrs. Nowles told of how happy she was that family members of the fallen will have this special place of remembrance.
Speaker Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff noted the importance of taking care of the needs of the 420,000 veterans who reside in New Jersey. Acknowledging the large number of Scouts present he also spoke of making sure that younger generations know what others who came before them have sacrificed.
Dozens of attendees from various American Legion posts and the group Warriors Watch arrived on motorcycles. Many Gold Star Families were also present and gathered around the location where the monument will eventually be placed for the official groundbreaking ceremony.
Fundraising continues to provide for the future maintenance of the monument as well as educational programs. For information on making a donation go to www.njgoldstarfamilymonument.org