Hundreds gathered to honor our military veterans at the annual Field of Heroes ceremony at Bayonne High School on Thursday, November 3.
With three Medal of Honor recipients, veterans have forged Bayonne’s character as a town that has served its country with distinction.
Veteran’s Day is celebrated on Friday, November 11, this year.
“Servicemen had to give their lives so we can live ours every day,” said Mayor James Davis, urging the audience to keep veterans in mind during a distracting election week. “Let us not forget that without our veterans we wouldn’t have a presidential election.”
Hundreds of flags were planted in front of Bayonne High School. The district raised money through the sale of the flags to community members, who dedicated them to a veteran or other uniformed service person. City officials and audience members stood at attendance on the lawn in front of Bayonne High School for the flag-raising ceremony.
Congressman Albio Sires (8th District), Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (31st District), and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (31st District) honored five Bayonne veterans, two of them posthumously.
Awards were given to John Nicaretta of the U.S. Army, Frank Perrucci of the U.S. Army Merchant Marines, Victoria Del Regno of the U.S. Air Force, and Glen Flora of the U.S. Army. Awards were given posthumously to family members of the late Navy veteran Henry Sanchez, and Navy Seal veteran, Denis Miranda. Miranda was 24 when his helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan in 2010. He graduated from Midtown Community School in 1999.
Congressman Sires, who came from Cuba with his family as a child, spoke about owing his success to the veterans who made “this country like no other in the world where people come and seek freedom.” He went on, “It’s my duty now that I am in a position to help these veterans, to make sure that I am there for you.” Sires cited his efforts on behalf of veterans in the areas of mental illness and education.“You know you have a supporter here,” he said.
“We received these awards for all veterans, and veterans of today are no different. We all do our duty and do it selflessly.” – John Nicaretta
The meaning of honor
Veterans were honored for their service not only to their country, but to their community. “These heroes understood that service doesn’t end once you get home,” said Schools Superintendent Patricia McGeehan. “In fact, for these veterans, it appears to have just begun. Their singular and collective actions have inspired thousands to work, to volunteer, and to understand the meaning of honor.”
All proceeds raised at the ceremony were donated to the Historical VFW Post 226 Veterans Museum on 16-18 West 9th Street. McGeehan presented a check for $5,000 to Commander Glen Flora, who founded the museum, saying his efforts helped to create a “learning community” that she hopes will “stay for generations and generations and generations.”
“This was tremendous,” said Frank Perucci, a World War II vet. “The city of Bayonne never forgets veterans who gave their freedom so everyone else could vote, for the freedom they have today.” Perucci founded the Concerned Citizens of Bayonne in 1970, chaired the World War II Welfare Fund, and served as Commander of the Hudson County Catholic War Veterans.
“We received these awards for all veterans,” said Sergeant John Nicaretta, who served in the Korean War and was honored for his service to the Army, the Bayonne chapter of UNICO, the Catholic War Veterans, and for his efforts in organizing blood drives and veteran assistance programs. “And veterans of today are no different. We all do our duty and do it selflessly.”
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.