Teaneck Observes Memorial Day with Gratitude to Fallen Service Members
Purple Heart recipient speaks at township ceremony.
A retired Navy petty officer’s rousing speech filled with admiration and gratitude to all those who died in the line of service was just one of the touching moments at this year’s Memorial Day Observance held on the Municipal Green.
Hosted by the Township Council and the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board (POAB), Monday’s ceremony reminded those in attendance to be thankful to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom.
John McGilchrist, chairman of the POAB and a Vietnam veteran and retired colonel of the U.S. Army, presided over the event, which featured stories of local veterans who died in combat, a Gold Star List Roll Call, and patriotic music played by the Teaneck High School band.
Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin said the best way to honor fallen servicemen and servicewomen is to live better lives.
“When I say be better, I mean be better wives, be better husbands, be better children to our parents, be better neighbors, and be better to our community,” Hameeduddin said. “How we do that is very simple. You take care of your parents, and you take care of your children. You take care of your neighbor, and you take care of your community. And the rest will take care of itself.”
Township historian Larry Robertson shared the stories of local veterans who died while in combat. He explained to the crowd that these people began their lives like any other resident.
“These are real individuals,” he said. “They lived on streets where you might live. They had other interests, they had a family, they had an education of some kind, and they had a career of some kind. If they would have survived, they would have gone in a different direction, but they didn’t because they died for us. They died for us without knowing any of us individually.”
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Jim Cava, retired Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy. According to a biography written in the program, Cava enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17 and received medical training for hospital corpsman before eventually serving in Vietnam. He was assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
On Nov. 20, 1968, a helicopter Cava was in crashed after being shot down. Cava’s left arm was severed, his legs were crushed, and his back was broken in three places.
Cava has received numerous honors, including the Purple Heart Medal, President Unit Citation and Distinguished Service Medal.
He spoke loudly and eloquently as he recognized and thanked each branch of the military.
“If only one honorable and brave patriotic American made up of any one race, color and creed has served us, has saved us, has helped us, has supported us, has protected us, has suffered for us, and has died for us to preserve and defend our great republic – to uphold the undeniable principles of honor, liberty, equality, justice, and humanity for which we stand and to defend the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to which all people are endowed by their creator, shouldn’t we be forever thankful to our honorable and brave patriotic American,” Cava asked to a round of applause.
Cava told the crowd that the day was significant, solemn and sacred and anything but another ordinary day. He said Memorial Day allows the public to pay homage and respect to the patriots and heroes who gave of themselves unselfishly in service to the country.
“And there are none as brave as the supreme patriot who made the supreme sacrifice all for God, our country and thee,” Cava said. “… as we simply say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you – a trillion times over.”