On Veterans Day, Hudson County officials hosted a World War I Centennial ceremony at Pershing Park in Jersey City, paying homage to all the men and women who have served.
“Everybody always says the American Dream is owning a home, you ever hear that? That’s great to live in a home, but if you live in an apartment that’s not bad either, right? The American Dream is freedom,” exclaimed Hudson County American Legion Commander Jack Dunne.
“That’s why we all went to military: to protect our country so we remain free. And I want you to remember that … You ever hear the saying that one percent of the nation makes over $250,000, they’re the one percenters. Have you heard that? Well I challenge that. Less than one percent of our nation puts on the uniform and serves this country.”
Dunne was joined by a dozen or so veterans at the field for a roughly 30-minute ceremony emceed by Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
Officers from Hudson County Corrections, the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office kicked off the event by presenting the colors before Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, a Navy veteran, led the pledge of alliance.
Arguably one of the most uplifting moments came when 93-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran Vincent Wassman, a Hoboken resident, recited “Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.
“We are the Dead. Short days ago. We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow. Loved and were loved, and now we lie, in Flanders fields,” he recited to a standing ovation.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction from St. Aloysius Church Deacon Andrew DeSilva.