• December 13, 2019

Upper honors service, sacrifice - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Upper honors service, sacrifice

Osprey Point hosts annual Veterans Day ceremony

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 3:55 pm

UPPER TOWNSHIP — Veterans cannot be thanked enough for their service to the country, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew told residents gathered at the clubhouse of the Osprey Point community Monday. 

The residential complex for those over 55 often holds ceremonies recognizing patriotic holidays, including Memorial Day, Patriots Day on Sept. 11 and Veterans Day, most often at the Sgt. William Godfrey Memorial Park near the front entrance. 

Although Monday morning was sunny and mild, the Veterans Day observance was held inside, with residents crowding the large room to hear the presentation. 

Outside, an honor guard of members of the VFW Post 8695 offered a rifle salute, visible to those gathered through the large windows. Michael W. Venzie, the post commander and a veteran of the war in Iraq, was joined by Vietnam veterans Gary Reagan and Butch Meher. 

Osprey Point resident Jim Joyce introduced the speakers and hosted the event, which included singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and reading names of Osprey Point residents who have died and are veterans. More than 50 residents of the community have served in the armed forces, according to the event organizers. 

Before making his comments, Van Drew praised Aldo Palombo, the former mayor of North Wildwood and father of Upper Township Mayor Rich Palombo. 

“I knew you’d become kind of like the mayor here, too,” Van Drew told him. 

“They say he’s the real mayor,” Rich Palombo added. 

Van Drew received a warm welcome at the event, and praise from the other speakers. In his comments, the first-term Democratic congressman called America an exceptional nation, and said it remains exceptional because men and women have been willing to defend it. 

“It’s always so hard to adequately express how we feel about our veterans,” Van Drew said, adding that it is important that veterans realize how much they are appreciated.

He described working with veterans during his internship as a dentist. Some carried wounds both physical and psychological, and some treatments available today were not yet developed, Van Drew said. 

“Even with what we do have now, certainly many of the men and women still have broken hearts, broken souls, broken bodies and really go through a tremendous amount of pain,” he said. “There’s no words that we have that could ever suffice to say thank you to them. There’s nothing that we really can do. There’s no speech that I can give. There is no ceremony, quite frankly, as important as they are.” 

If that is true, Van Drew said, what must citizens do? 

“So what is our responsibility? What is our job? We sure have to try,” he said, adding that means letting veterans know they are cared for and appreciated. 

“There will be a day when there are no more veterans that are homeless. There will be a day when veterans aren’t committing suicide each and every day. There will be a day when veterans have educational opportunity, which they deserve. There will be a day when veterans have housing, which they deserve,” he said. 

Van Drew, who has drawn criticism as one of two Democrats to vote against opening impeachment proceedings against Republican president Donald Trump as well as praise from speakers Monday for his independence, said the country is now more divided than at any time since the Civil War. 

“I know there is a discussion of whether America is truly an exceptional nation, and I’m here to tell you yes, thank you. It is,” he said. “That isn’t something we need to debate, or discuss or think about. Yet for some crazy reason, some people do. I don’t understand that but I guess that’s part of the freedom of America — you get to do what you want.” 

He praised the founders of the country, and their protection of freedom of expression and other freedoms, and said the American system of government did not persevere by accident. 

“It happened because for decades and centuries men and women went to war so that no other place could come over and change that,” Van Drew said.

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