True courage

Lawrence Township holds Memorial Day parade and ceremony May 27

“If true courage is being afraid and going ahead to do your job anyway, then Memorial Day honors those soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who forged ahead and died,” said Paul Tweedly.

Tweedly, the Lawrence Township Memorial Day parade grand marshal, quoted the late U.S. Army (Ret.) General Norman Schwartzkopf’s definition of true courage in his remarks at the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park May 27.

“Memorial Day, for me, is the profound gratitude for the sacrifice of so many. My dad told me early in my life that we owe the soldiers for all our gifts,” said Tweedly, who is better known as Captain Paul and the owner of Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs restaurant.

“These men and women gave up two lives for their country. They gave up the life they had been living, and the one they would have lived (if they had not been killed),” Tweedly said.

In his remarks, Tweedly paid tribute to some local heroes who have died after their military service. They served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tweedly recalled the memory of his uncle, Ray Slack, who served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War, and David Snedeker, who served in the New Jersey Army National Guard. He retired, but re-enlisted to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Former Lawrence Township Police Chief Nicholas Loveless served in World War II and in the Korean War, Tweedly said. Roy Bearden, who was a fixture at Tweedly’s business, was a veteran of World War II.

Pat Colavita, a former Lawrence Township mayor and school board president, served in the New Jersey Army National Guard during the Vietnam War, Tweedly said. He also “served” at Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs as a guest hot dog slinger, along with U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Township Councilman Jim Kownacki.

Tweedly also mentioned Rudy Fuessel, who was a longtime member and former fire chief at the Slackwood Volunteer Fire Co.

“These are a few of the heroes we lost recently and on Memorial Day, we remember them fondly. It has been an honor and a privilege to spend time with those who selflessly served a greater purpose than themselves,” he said.

Lawrence Township holds Memorial Day parade and ceremony May 27. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF
Lawrence Township holds Memorial Day parade and ceremony May 27. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF
Lawrence Township holds Memorial Day parade and ceremony May 27. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF

Master of Ceremonies Andrew Tunnard reinforced the meaning of Memorial Day. It is more than the unofficial start of summer and its round of pool parties, barbeques, fireworks and trips to the beach, he said.

“Many people describe this as our way of life. It is true, but it can be easy to forget what this holiday is actually for. It is becoming too easy to forget the very freedom we celebrate this weekend and summer (and that) came at a very high price,” Tunnard said.

“It was not free,” said Tunnard, who retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of commander.

There is a conflict going on right now in which Ukraine has mobilized and is fighting for its very existence, much as the United States has done over the years, Tunnard said.

With help from the United States, Ukraine is fighting against a modern day tyrant and is doing more than holding its own against a much larger and more capable military force, he said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the United States Congress in December 2022 and compared Ukraine’s struggle to similar struggles in American history, Tunnard said.

“I only bring this up to remind us that the struggle for freedom which we enjoy continues in many places in the world. The ultimate sacrifices that our fallen comrades have made not only inspires us, but inspires people around the globe who desire to live our way of life,” Tunnard said.

The Memorial Day ceremony included reading off the names of members of American Legion Post 414 and the 112th Field Artillery Association who died during the past year. A wreath was placed at the memorial in Veterans Park.

The 112th Field Artillery Association gave an artillery salute by the association’s cannon crew. It was followed by the flag detail and by the playing of Taps by a bugler.

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