Toms River program honored America’s veterans

The annual Toms River Veterans Day parade, which ended in front of the library, preceded the Toms River Veterans Day program held today in Mancini Hall.

The annual Toms River Veterans Day parade, which ended in front of the library, preceded the Toms River Veterans Day program held today in Mancini Hall.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 World War I, the War that Would End all Wars, came to an end.

But from that 1918 ending a new day of remembrance came about, Armistice Day. In 1954 it was renamed Veterans Day and now honors the sacrifice of the men and women who offered their lives in military service to the United States.

Today, Toms River held its annual Veterans Day parade that ended once again at the doors of the Ocean County Library. Speeches were made. Flags flew along the parade route. People felt proud to recognize their local heroes.

But afterwards, in the library’s Mancini Hall, something perhaps even more meaningful for the veterans and participants went on.

Local artist and veteran Frank McGinley, along with librarians Matt Willbergh and Karla Ivarson, organized a program that brought together currently-serving military personnel, along with veterans whose service spanned from World War II, through Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, to listen to their humble stories that included terms like “sense of duty” and “sense of responsibility to do the best job you can.”

They spoke of the pride it instills in one’s self and in what was accomplished.

And they told of that patriotism which compels the newest veterans to step forward and say, “I am willing to serve.”

“To hear the support of people makes a difference to the men and women who serve,” said Col. Steven R. Cabosky, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Yet he also said the praise sometimes makes him uncomfortable.

“It’s humbling to be thanked for doing my small part,” he said.

When he is thanked Jim Steinbaugh said he replies in two ways. First he smiles and says, “You’re welcome,” and then he adds, “but it was my honor to do my duty for you.”

Col. Charles E. Coursey, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “Thank you to our local veterans: the police, fire fighters and first aid members. They are also heroes who often get lost in the shuffle and deserve a round of applause.”

Col. Charles E. Coursey, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “Thank you to our local veterans: the police, fire fighters and first aid members. They are also heroes who often get lost in the shuffle and deserve a round of applause.”

Col. Steven R. Cabosky, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “It is humbling to be thanked for doing my small part. We all serve in our own way.”

Col. Steven R. Cabosky, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “It is humbling to be thanked for doing my small part. We all serve in our own way.”

Mark Mutter, Toms River Clerk and Historian, said at World War II’s start, Toms River was a small, bustling village with 5,000 people, yet it hosted the Toms River Service Center across the street from the library. The Bishop Library also served as the town’s ration center.

Mark Mutter, Toms River Clerk and historian, said at World War II’s start Toms River was a small, bustling village with 5,000 people, yet it hosted the Toms River Service Center across the street from the library. The Bishop Library also served as the town’s ration center.

Anthony Ventura served as a fireman on a destroyer in the Pacific during WWII. Life aboard a destroyer wasn’t too bad, he said, but they did have to shower and shave using salt water.

Anthony Ventura served as a fireman on a destroyer in the Pacific during WWII. Life aboard a destroyer wasn’t too bad, he said, but they did have to shower and shave using salt water.

Manny Hirshblond graduated from Toms River High School (now Toms River High School South) in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy during WWII. He served on a destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea, serving as its store keeper. “It made me the most popular man on the ship,” he said.

Manny Hirshblond graduated from Toms River High School (now Toms River High School South) in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy during WWII. He served on a destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea, serving as its store keeper. “It made me the most popular man on the ship,” he said.

Lou Riccio served as a medic during the Korean Conflict. He was assigned to a MASH unit.

Lou Riccio served as a medic during the Korean Conflict. He was assigned to a MASH unit.

Nels Luthman served in Vietnam and said he had two reasons to speak at the library program. First was for the men he served with, 18 to 24-year-olds from all over the country who bonded closer than brothers. And second, for his dog Casey who walked point with him while on patrol. The dogs located booby traps and the enemy.  More than 5,000 dogs served in Vietnam but only 200 returned. “It is estimated there would have been 10,000 more names on the Wall (Washington, D.C. memorial dedicated to Vietnam War veterans) without the dogs,” he said. The Wall has more than 50,000 names of military personnel who died during that war.

Nels Luthman served in Vietnam and said he had two reasons to speak at the library’s program. First was for the men he served with, 18 to 24-year-olds from all over the country who bonded closer than brothers. And second, for his dog Casey who walked point with him while on patrol. The dogs located booby traps and the enemy. More than 5,000 dogs served in Vietnam but only 200 returned. “It is estimated there would have been 10,000 more names on the Wall (Washington, D.C. memorial dedicated to Vietnam War veterans) without the dogs,” he said. The Wall has more than 50,000 names of military personnel who died during that war.

Jim Steinbaugh, who served with the SEALS, Said “Every generation of Americans has been blessed by a heroic few who have been willing to step into the breach to keep us safe, preserve our way of life, and provide a beacon of hope.” Since the American Revolution there has been that group of Americans who have run to the sound of gunfire, not shied away from it, he said.

Jim Steinbaugh, who served with the SEALS, Said “Every generation of Americans has been blessed by a heroic few who have been willing to step into the breach to keep us safe, preserve our way of life, and provide a beacon of hope.” Since the American Revolution there has been that group of Americans who have run to the sound of gunfire, not shied away from it, he said.

Sal Ottaviano thanked his veteran comrades from all the wars. Veterans share common traits, he said: courage, pride determination and self-sacrifice.

Sal Ottaviano thanked his veteran comrades from all the wars. Veterans share common traits, he said: courage, pride, determination and self-sacrifice.

Frank McGinley, World War II veteran and award-winning local artist whose work has appeared in such venues as The Smithsonian and The Pentagon, had the idea about OCL’s program that honored local veterans.

Frank McGinley, World War II veteran and award-winning local artist whose work has appeared in such venues as The Smithsonian and The Pentagon, had the idea about OCL’s program that honored local veterans.

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said there are 68,000 veterans in the county. High on his agenda is to provide medical care for the veterans and continue his support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “Thanks to all who serve today and in the future,” he said.

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said there are 68,000 veterans in the county. High on his agenda is to provide medical care for the veterans and continue his support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “Thanks to all who serve today and in the future,” he said.

Ocean County Library Director Susan Quinn welcomed the more than 100 people who attended Toms River's Veterans Day program.

Ocean County Library Director Susan Quinn welcomed the more than 100 people who attended Toms River’s Veterans Day program.

Library Chief Zarita Mattox opened up the program with "America the Beautiful" and closed with "God Bless America."

Library Chief Zarita Mattox opened up the program with “America the Beautiful” and closed with “God Bless America.”

Librarian Matthew Willbergh assisted with organizing Toms River's Veterans Day program

Librarian Matthew Willbergh assisted with organizing Toms River’s Veterans Day program

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