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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

May 18, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans

By Lori Draz

While many view Memorial Day as the unofficial start of the summer season, it is actually a day of deep respect and reflection for the fallen heroes and veterans who defend our freedom and way of life. Making time to participate in activities to celebrate the sacrifices of these brave men and women is a wonderful family activity, an educational opportunity, and an emotional event.

Most towns hold wreath laying ceremonies on Memorial Day morning; please check your town’s website for individual details. Buy a poppy and wear it through the weekend, and remember flags should be flown at half-mast until noon, then flown at full mast. Take a minute to pay your respects to living and deceased military and learn a little about history, so that you can better understand their dedication.

Here are a few interesting options:


May 13 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – The 2017 Spirit of the Jerseys State History Fair at Monmouth Battlefield State Park.  This is a day full of educational family fun. Hundreds of costumed characters will teach you all about history, from the Revolutionary War to World War II. There will be open fire cooking demonstrations, various bands dressed in historically accurate clothing and playing period appropriate instruments to perform music of the Civil War, World War I, and liberty songs, and a band of singing pirates performing nautical songs. Join in the reenacted wartime radio broadcast, then catch a baseball match using the rules of the 1860s and 1870s, played by with the Flemington Neshanocks, Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club, Hoboken Nine, and United Base Ball Club of Trenton in period uniforms and using period equipment. There will also be a colonial beer brewer, a demonstration of 19th century photography, and the hilarious Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus & Wahoo Medicine Show, plus lots more surprises. The fair will be held rain or shine. Free admission, though a $10 parking fee per vehicle is suggested. Visit

May 20 from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. – Five-mile historic hike of Fort Hancock: “Turn the Clock Back to May 1943 and You Are There.” See the fortifications normally closed to the public and learn the history of Fort Hancock during the World War II era. Members of the Army Ground Forces Association return to May 1943 and take you on a moderate-pace five-mile walking tour of selected fortifications and forgotten locations of Fort Hancock’s storied past. Your guides will be the volunteers who restore, preserve, and interpret Battery Gunnison/New Peck for the National Park Service. Walking is off road, in sand, and near beaches, and on the asphalt multi-use Path (MUP). Meet at 12:00 p.m. and park in Lot G at Battery Gunnison/New Peck in the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area P. The fee is $15 and includes a 1940s-theme light picnic lunch. Funds support restoration and preservation work of the Army Ground Forces Association at Fort Hancock. Space is limited, so register soon at The registration page also contains historic documents for you to download and learn about global happenings and activities specifically at Fort Hancock in May 1943. For information and questions, email

June 3 (RSVP by May 28) from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Second Annual Sunset County Gala. Break out your cowboy boots and hats for this evening of cocktails and a grazing table to support the Serenity Stables – From Combat to Calm program. This equine therapy program provides horse-assisted activities to veterans returning from deployment with a broad spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Hang with the horses, meet the veterans, and enjoy live music, raffles, auctions, and casual fun in the fresh air. Serenity Stables is located at 660 Kings Highway in the Atlantic Highlands. For tickets, contact Serenity Stables at (732) 497-8078 or email

Share a movie – Fresh from the Garden State Film Festival and being released nationally on DVD at the end of May is the heartwarming family film, “Last Man’s Club.” The movie is about a group of veteran flying aces, all of whom are facing lives in nursing homes, who embark on a wild cross-country trip to reunite and take one last flight together. It is a charming film, great to share with veterans, seniors, and the whole family. For your copy of the movie, visit Digital HD downloads are available on Amazon, iTunes, Direct TV, Dish Network, Sling TV, and other Video on Demand sites.