By Michael Benavides
MANALAPAN – On a sunny day when a monument that honors all residents who served in the armed forces was rededicated, veterans of the Korean War were in the spotlight in Manalapan.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the community’s elected officials and members of the Manalapan Veterans Advisory Committee unveiled a new plaza in front of town hall that is dedicated to veterans.
Manalapan’s veterans monument, which had been at the corner of Route 522 and Taylors Mills Road, was moved from that location and now has a place of honor in the veterans plaza, along with flags for each branch of the military.
The 11 a.m. ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by the Manalapan High School choir.
Township Committeeman Jack McNaboe asked the assembled guests to observe a moment of silence for everyone who died in service to the nation.
“We will now raise the service flags and pay honor to the sixth staff that contains the flags of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who did not return home and are lost from our ranks,” McNaboe said. “A real debt of gratitude is owed to our veterans.”
McNaboe thanked all of the men and women who are serving in the nation’s armed forces today.
He said the new veterans plaza would have not been possible without the hard work of the veterans committee members and students in Shane Evans’ design class at Manalapan High School.
Stephen McEnery, a member of the veterans committee, said that within the past year the panel’s members decided to move the monument off the corner of Route 522 and Taylors Mills Road and give it a more prominent position in front of town hall.
Veterans committee Chairman Ernie Diorio said no taxpayer money was used in the construction of the new veterans plaza. He said donations were solicited to cover the cost of the project.
McNaboe said Don Gorman, a veteran, “took up the cause to honor the veterans by raising the funds necessary to purchase the granite monument, which is the centerpiece of the (plaza).”
Gorman’s daughter, Donna Potts, said her father is a patriotic person who was determined to create the monument for Manalapan’s veterans.
“Mr. Gorman, we thank you for your efforts many years ago in securing this monument and we thank you for your service to this nation,” McNaboe said.
Manalapan resident Anthony Nappi, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, said the veterans committee selected the new location for the monument and the veterans plaza because they wanted to make it easier for people to approach the stone.
“We felt it would be more appropriate for it to be placed in front of town hall,” Nappi said.
Guest speaker Ralph Goodman, a veteran of the Korean War, thanked the members of the public for recognizing the sacrifices made by all veterans.
“Nobody seemed to care during the Korean War,” Goodman said. “I want to personally thank the people of Manalapan today for finally recognizing the veterans.”
The ceremony concluded with the laying of a wreath at the veterans monument. The wreath was provided by the Manalapan Police Department.
World War II veterans were the guests of honor during the 2015 ceremony and veterans of the Vietnam War will be the guests of honor during the 2017 ceremony, officials said.