Bordentown Township unveils new monument for local veterans at Memorial Day services

The new "Hometown Heroes" monument located outside of the Bordentown Township municipal building. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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The new "Hometown Heroes" monument located outside of the Bordentown Township municipal building. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

Gathered in front of the township municipal building, Bordentown officials and residents honored the nation’s veterans on May 27 with a special Memorial Day event.

In the midst of the event’s annual Memorial Day processions, a new monument was unveiled during the ceremony to recognize Bordentown’s service men and women.

The “Hometown Hero Monument” was introduced at the event, which recognizes seven local veterans for their efforts in combat such as World War II, the Iraq War and Vietnam, and now stands beside the township’s veterans’ monument too.

As the morning’s processions began with a posting of the colors ceremony led by the township police department, Bordentown Township Mayor Stephen Benowitz opened the event with remarks about the meaning and purpose of the holiday, and acknowledged the township’s Veterans Advisory Committee (VAC) for their efforts in their organization of these honorary events.

“In 2017, I charged the Veterans Advisory Committee with the responsibility of reaching out to all veterans and to our community to make sure that all veterans received all the benefits, aid and recognition due to them,” Mayor Benowitz said. “The VAC members answered the call to duty in a way that exceeded any of my expectations, going above and beyond.”

Mayor Benowitze explained that the VAC helps organize the township’s services for Veterans Day, Memorial Day and a Flag Retirement ceremony.

“They have made sure that we not only recognize our fallen heroes, but make sure that the service of all veterans is remembered and respected with the gratitude that needs to be bestowed upon the men and women that served our country,” Mayor Benowitz said. “They have worked hard to make this ‘Hometown Hero’ monument a reality.”

Following remarks from the mayor, Congressman Andy Kim (D-3rd of Bordentown Township) and Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy (D-Burlington), the Bordentown Township VAC Chairman Bryan Branson introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Dana Capaldi.

Capaldi entered the United States Air Force in August 1990, and has deployed for multiple operations.  She is currently assigned to the 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst where she serves as the Command Chief Master Sergeant. She is the Senior Enlisted Leader for approximately 2,000 enlisted personnel assigned to the wing. She also advises on the 514th Air Mobility Wing Commander and senior staff on matters of health, welfare and morale of the Airmen.

For her keynote speech, Capaldi touched on the history of Memorial Day, its background and meaning, and how it ties into honoring the nation’s fallen heroes today. Alongside her explanation of the holiday, Capaldi also noted the number of lives lost in America’s war efforts as well as the importance of taking a moment of silence on Memorial Day to remember its intended purpose.

“With the hectic lives we lead today, it might be easy to think of Memorial Day as merely a three-day weekend, but it’s much more than that,” Capaldi said. “It’s a time for our nation reflect, to remember and honor the airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guards, merchant mariners and civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice defending or supporting our great country, its interests and its ideals.

“While Memorial Day is known as a time of remembrance, it’s also a time for us in uniform to reaffirm our own commitment of selfless service. By doing so, we not only honor the memory of those before us, but also vow to carry on the legacy of excellence in the world’s best military force,” Capaldi added.

After Capaldi’s speech, Branson introduced the township’s newly monument, which honors previous veterans chosen by the township committee and the VAC as the “Hometown Hero” for their services in defense of the country.

The names listed on the stone include Harry J. Havens; Jeffrey J. Eget; Michael W. Huntanar; Rebecca R. Nucera; Joseph E. Nyzio; Donald L. Smieszek; and Donald W. Mohr.

Upon the unveiling of the monument, a wreath laying ceremony followed along with a rifle salute form the VVA Chapter899, a recorded performance of “Taps,” a rendition of “God Bless America” sung by Katie Raynor and Mia Procaccino, and a retiring of the colors by the township police department’s honor guard.