HAPPY ARMED FORCES DAY!
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PLEASANTVILLE — Members of the American Legion Riders Post 352 in Somers Point made sure fallen veterans were not forgotten Saturday, Armed Forces Day.
The group put American flags and medallions on grave stones of veterans at Greenwood Cemetery.
“They offered all that they had,” said Ken Stiteler, 65, of Egg Harbor Township, as he put flags alongside the grave stones of veterans. “It shows the respect that we have for what they had to offer.”
On Aug. 31, 1949, then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the armed forces under the Department of Defense.
“We used to do Atlantic City, Pleasantville and this, but because there are so few of us left, we now only do this,” John Palmentieri, a WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient from Atlantic City.
Ronald Rease, 71, of Pleasantville, said he comes every year to help out. Rease, a former U.S. Marine, received a bad head injury in Quantri Province near the border of North Vietnam in 1967.
“When we stop doing this, those men and women are truly forgotten,” Rease said. “We don’t want that. We want to memorialize them.”
Stiteler’s family has a long history in the military, but a back injury prevented him from serving.
“My whole family has been in the service, and we have to protect the rights of the democracy that we have,” Stiteler said.
For the past seven years, the group has placed flags at the cemetery.
“It’s about coming out here to remember those who sacrificed,” said Paul Lettier, 69, of Brigantine, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam. “It’s about giving them the respect that they deserve.”