SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Former Shore Boros American Legion Post 351 Commander Chuck Robbins has hosted countless Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Prisoner of War/Missing in Action services over his many years and he did so again on Memorial Day weekend.
This year, he wanted to give special emphasis to the cause of POW/MIAs while also reminding those present of the importance of Memorial Day and honoring those who paid the price of freedom with their lives.
“Many Americans from all wars and conflicts the United States has fought in are still listed as POW/MIAs. While the United States does as much as it can to account them, many are still unaccounted for. Today, remember our missing also and the grief their family feels,” Robbins said.
“The numbers of our fallen heroes aren’t just statistics. They are real people with real families who live in real communities like Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Lavallette. We can best honor their sacrifice by remembering their families who lost so much. Let us never forget what Memorial Day means,” Robbins added. “It is not about beaches, picnics or auto races, it is a day to remember. Many in our military are right now protecting our precious freedoms that are the envy of the world over and must never be taken for granted for they come at a horrible, horrible price.”
Members of Boy Scout Troop 21 led the audience in the pledge of allegiance. Post member Paul Lerin asked the audience to join him as he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Wreaths were donated and later placed by the scouts in front of the Memorial monument at the Legion’s headquarters. The wreaths were donated by the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, the American Legion Post 351, the Post’s Auxiliary Unit 351, and Sons of the Legion Squadron 351.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said, “we are here to remember those who gave their lives in sacrifice. Sacrifice, is when we do something for ourselves or others that is noteworthy for change. Some sacrifice for the individual. The difference is those who gave their lives for us and our freedom they sacrificed for people they didn’t even know. They didn’t know about you and I. That is sacrifice.”
“When there is a crisis in this country be it storms or a pandemic, we unite. That is patriotism – which is loyalty to your community or your country,” the mayor added.
Nancy Robbins, the president of the Post’s Auxiliary Unit, spoke next. “I want to welcome you to our Post and our family and to have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Please remember our veterans and everyone take care of yourselves.”
William Kevish, who recently returned as leader of the Post, led an effort to plant more than 2,000 American flags on the graves of veterans in a Toms River cemetery. He was joined by members of the Post, Sons of the American Legion and various other volunteers a few days prior to Memorial Day.
“Thank you all for being here and remembering the importance of this day. Let us pledge to never forget the sacrifices they made. We must keep alive and cherish the traits of our freedom and liberties that they believed in and fought for and that we enjoy today. It was because of their duty, sacrifice and courage that we remain a free and great nation,” Kevish said.
Post Service Officer Ian Worrell spoke about the humbleness of those who serve their country and most especially those who died in that service. “They do it out of a sense of duty and humbleness. That person was being humble at doing their duty which leaves us with a greater duty. Don’t just consider tomorrow and today Memorial Day let us make each and every day Memorial Day.”
Robbins brought some history into the service in asking the scouts who the seventh president of the United States was. Scout member Joshua Guzman-Ramirez knew it was Andrew Jackson.
After reading a brief biography of “Old Hickory” Jackson’s nickname “which refers to his strength and stubbornness as a major general,” Robbins presented Joshua with a coin. “This coin was given to me by the chief operating officer of the National League of POWs/MIAs based in Washington D.C.”
“Her brother was a POW in the Vietnam War and after 36 years he was finally accounted for. She kept at it and put pressure on our politicians and they found his remains. Although we honor our fallen today let’s never forget our missing,” Robbin added.