Veteran's Memorial Park
November 11, 2015
Kearny, New Jersey
Commanders, honored veterans and guests: I will begin by honoring the memory and service of 6 sons of Kearny who died in World War I:
Arthur McEntevy, 165 Devon Street, Kearny, killed in action at Gallipoli, 1915;
Hugh Fleming, 502 Kearny Avenue, Arlington, died of wounds, 1917;
Edward W. McWhirter, 511 Elm Street, Arlington, killed in action, 1918;
Casswell Gross, Washington Square, Arlington, died of wounds, 1918;
James Corbett, John Street, Kearny, killed in action in Cambri, France, 1918;
Arthur Perring Heward, 156 Quincy Avenue, Arlington, died of influenza pneumonia, 1918, only son of Albert Heward.
The monument before which we stand, and which stands over us, was dedicated to these men and all the military servicemen who died defending our freedoms in World War I. The United States did not enter that war until late, in April 2017. Our nation was a young democracy, unsure of its role in the world. The war came to end just 19 months later. In that short timespan, 110,000 American soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice – many killed in action, many died from wounds, and over 40,000 died from the influenza pandemic.
This monument was unveiled in 1922 to much acclaim. The Observer reported that 25,000 persons “thronged the line of march” which included many army, navy and air groups but most significantly, General John J. Pershing who had led the American forces to victory over Germany. General Pershing paid tribute to those who died in the cause stating:
“They went across in the full bloom of youth and fought and died; they gave their all that you might live in a state of liberty… Were another great crisis to arise we would again find the men of the country responding to the call to defense because we love our county and we love our flag… It is fitting that that this beautiful monument should find a place in the center of your town where it may be viewed by the children who, on this spot, will learn their first lesson in patriotism.”
Today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we assemble here to remember the dedication to honor and duty, and the sacrifice of our nation’s veterans in defense of our country and our freedoms. We salute all of our honored veterans for their service to our country. We also remember the service men and women who presently serve our county.
We acknowledge the prescient words of General Pershing at this spot in 1922 because, as he foretold, many thousands of Americans have responded to the call to serve our country in the past century, which we have honored with additional monuments in this park to the servicemen who died in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the War On Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a nation, as a young democracy, we learned in World War I that the defense of our cherished liberties and freedoms – to speak freely, to worship and assemble freely, to choose our leaders, and to live in a democratic and secure society – requires not only the defense of our nation’s borders, but also protecting vital national interests around the globe before threats reach our borders, and stopping crimes against humanity such as genocide.
America and American soldiers led the world in protecting the cause of freedom in World War II, in the Korea and Vietnam conflicts, in the protection of the free half of Europe during the Cold War, and, most recently in response to the brutal attack on our nation on September 11, 2001, the War on Terror, a war that has sent American men and women in uniform to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, a war that is ongoing, and one in which we do not know if and when it will end.
Our debt as a country and community also extends to the families of our veterans who know the hardship and the tragic loss of war. The six men whose names I stated at the beginning of my remarks were sons, husbands, and brothers. While reading their military records in the State’s online archive, I came upon a letter from Albert Heward, the father of Arthur Perring Heward, dated October 26, 1920. Mr. Heward had been asked by the State for a photograph of his son, in uniform, for the State’s archives. He provided the photo but asked that it be returned to him. I found in the State’s archive the letter that from Mr. Heward that accompanied the photo, which reads:
We honor Arthur Perring Heward’s sacrifice and the service of all who have answered the call to duty in defense of our freedoms and our national interests. We will always stand together in love of our country and our flag. We will always affirm our commitment to our veterans, honoring them with gratitude and respect for their service, and ensuring that “every care will be taken.” May God bless our veterans and their families, and may God bless our community, the Town of Kearny.