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Pompton Plains community celebrates tenth Veterans Day program

This year honors women in service

Created date

October 23rd, 2012

This month, the staff and community members of Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., will host their tenth Veterans Day program an annual celebration and memorial for those who have fought for freedom. And one woman is at the center of it all 92-year-old Ruth Blocher. When Ruth moved to Cedar Crest in February 2002, from Westbury, in Long Island, N.Y., she saw a need to honor the veterans who live and work at the community. I started it because it had to be done, she says. Veterans Day is very special. There are a lot of vets here, and it s a program that s very well received.

American pride

The program, which features a theme each year, always receives an enthusiastic response from the entire community. I don t know if I can express the feeling we have here, Ruth says of the community s pride in the United States. It s so rich. We feel very strongly. Vets from the past 70-plus years live and work at Cedar Crest, along with those who have supported war efforts over the years, including nurses and wives, like Ruth. Her husband served overseas in Italy from 1942 to 1946. We managed, she says of raising her daughter during that time. We weren t alone .We ve [my peers] always felt this is our country, and we ve got to do what we ve go to do. Especially since 9/11, she says, We re more aware of how important our freedom is .I m very proud of having been born here [in the United States]. I feel honored that I can note all the things that have gone on, and we are still the best country on earth. Ruth s passion for honoring veterans is contagious. More than 200 people attend the Veterans Day program, and six to eight people help her organize it. It s very fulfilling to see all the people who participate, she says. Cedar Crest Pastoral Ministries Manager Bert Moore, who spent five years in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer and 25 years in the Navy as a chaplain until 2007, often speaks or offers a prayer. He says the program is very fitting for the community. We have a lot of veterans living here, he says. Additionally, we have some who have children or grandchildren who are veterans or currently serving on active duty. I think that without a program or ceremony remembering the veterans, there would be something missing.

Honoring women

In years past, Ruth has planned a morning memorial service and a celebratory afternoon service. This year, she has combined the two into one longer program, which will take place in the on-campus chapel. Each year, Ruth gives a brief welcome, introduces speakers, and ends the program with a short note. Throughout the program, participants sing unit songs of the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Army. Dressed in uniform, Bob Krause leads the Pledge of Allegiance. The Cedar Crest choir performs God of our Fathers, and Benjamin Honeywell, grandson of residents Roy and Mildred Kay, bugles. This year s theme, Women in Military Service, will honor our women who have done so much, Ruth says. Some women will carry the flags as all veterans march through the chapel, and others will speak about service, duty, and remembering those who served. The program, which will take place Monday, November 12, since Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, will last about an hour and a half. More than 200 people are expected to participate.