JACKSON – It doesn’t get as much focus these days in school, but the mayor and council remembered the centennial of World War I at its most recent meeting.
Specifically, they recalled the 52 township residents who served during that war and were recognized during a presentation of a special banner by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission.
Nick Wood, the curator of the commission’s museum, made a presentation to the mayor and council during the meeting.
Donna Malfitano, the secretary of the commission said that they have been making presentations of special banners to each municipality in the county that noted a loss of life by service personnel during World War I.
“We’ve been doing this for all the towns that lost residents during the war. Some of our Freeholders have come out to some of the presentations,” she said.
Malfitano noted a special event to be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 outside the Ocean County Courthouse in Toms River that will mark the 100th anniversary of the “war to end all wars”
“I didn’t know we had 52 veterans from World War I,” Councilman Scott Martin said.
Mayor Michael Reina thanked the commission for the banner which became a photo opportunity for the governing body.
“I never served in the military which is why I show the respect for those that served that I do. I look into the eyes of those who served during World War II when they share their stories. I think we should always show respect for those men and women who served and are serving in the U.S. Military,” Reina said.
Council President Kenneth Bressi noted that “Jackson is a town that recognizes our veterans from all branches of service.”
Bressi and Reina noted recent events in the community including the Wounded Warrior Escort and a well-attended fundraiser event at the township’s Am Vets Post for the municipality’s memorial which is a tribute to all veterans from all wars and all branches of the military.
“One of the best things Jackson does is to recognize our veterans. It is easy to look at World War I as just another page in the history book but it’s important to remember them as people that we lost,” Councilman Rob Nixon said.
Nixon commended Reina and Bressi for their work in honoring township veterans during the projects they are involved with. Reina helped start the Wounded Warrior Escort event which involved police and various township emergency response units and a township based gun club.
Bressi is one of two founders of the veterans memorial project which will have a special ceremony in early November.
“More than 1,200,000 service personnel gave their lives for the freedoms you have today,” Bressi said.
The Seaport Stichers Quilt Guild of Tuckerton donated their time to create each of the 28 commemorative service flags, one for each municipality that existed in 1918 in Ocean County.
Anne Flynn and Betty Maguire designed the flags in honor of the World War I era practice of creating community flags. Each of the flags contain 13 stars representing the original colonies. A blue number notes the total number of individuals who served from each community a gold number represents the total of individuals from that town who made the supreme sacrifice.
The numbers on the service flags are the result of a long research process involving newspapers, muster rolls, genealogies and monuments that exist in the county.
The effort created a list of 2,433 service members, or 10.5 percent of Ocean County’s population at that time. An existing service flag was located and examined in Cape May to provide a basis for the recent project.
Jackson’s honor roll includes a total of 52 with 50 who served in the military and two who died in service during the first world war.
The council also recognized National Friends of the Library Month during the early portion of the meeting. They presented a proclamation to the Jackson Branch of the Ocean County Library. Mayor Reina presented the plaque to Jackson Branch Manager Sabrina Guimares.
“Our Friends group does an extraordinary job to support our library and its programs, ” Guimares said.
Also recognized during the session were those who serve in the township’s fire districts and the Municipal Utilities Authority.
“Our MUA is well managed and well run. Our fire districts do a fine at looking shared services,” Nixon said.
Martin added that “the fire districts always look for shared services.” He added that the leadership of the MUA “does an extraordinary job.”
“We run a tight ship. We have some former firefighters here tonight. They help make our town safe,” Reina said.
Councilwoman Ann Updegrave explained that the discussion concerning the MUA and Fire Districts was part of a yearly requirement and that “we will be sending this to the Governor as part of the best practices program.”