On Sunday Sept. 27, New Jersey residents remembered those residents and their families who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country with the conclusion of the Run For The Fallen and the dedication of The New Jersey Gold Star Family Monument. Both events were at the New Jersey Vietnam War Memorial in Holmdel.
The Run For The Fallen took place over 4 days starting at the Cape May Lighthouse on Thursday September 24. According to the group's website, The New Jersey Run for the Fallen is an organization of runners and support crew whose mission is clear and simple: To run one mile for every New Jersey service member killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. Each mile of sweat and pain and each flag saluted is to pay homage to one service member's life and their family.
The last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of September, we run across New Jersey to raise awareness for the lives of those who fought and died, to rejuvenate their memories and keep their spirits alive, to support organizations that aid the families of those killed, and to aid in the healing process for the native New Jersey residents whose lives have been affected by the war. We refuse any political affiliation or agenda, but simply honor those who have fought, and those who have fallen under the American flag."
At the conclusion of the run, the dedication and unveiling of the New Jersey Gold Star Family Monument began with The Ocean County Shamrock and Thistle Pipes and Drums along with St. Brendon the Navigator Pipes and Drums marching into the plaza. A very moving version of the National Anthem was sung by Ron Brooks. Chaplain Mike Shaeffer noted that "in our grief, we remember the bravery of those who have fallen".
Gold Star parents Ken and Helen Gurbisz of Eatontown who led the effort to design, build and fund the monument each addressed the gathering of approximately 500 people. Mr. Gurbisz noted that "the monument is a place where Gold Star families can come remember and to meditate what it is like to lose a loved one". He concluded by saying "I am very proud of it." Mrs. Gurbisz thanked the many groups and businesses that had made the monument possible especially those who donated funds and those that assisted in its design (Brian Hanlon of Hanlon Sculpture Studio in Toms River, New Jersey) construction and installation.
After the unveiling, the band played Amazing Grace as families of those who were lost viewed the monument up close for the first time. More information can be found at http://www.njgoldstarfamilymonument.org/design.html