Freeholder Patricia Walsh, next to wreath, and Sheriff Frank Provenzano, at left, are joined by local veterans, county Veterans Office staff and Sheriff’s Office representatives as a wreath from Wreaths Across America is placed at Veterans Memorial Plaza in Somerville.
Members of Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 27, and representatives from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office also attended, along with county Veterans Services Director Peter Niemiec and his staff.
The wreath had been presented to the county Office of Veterans Services as part of the Wreaths Across America ceremony held the previous day in Montgomery Township.
The Wreaths Across America convoy, whose mission is “To Remember, Honor and Teach,” is again bringing balsam wreaths from Maine to be laid on veterans’ grave-sites at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. For the second year in a row, the convoy stopped in Somerset County, NJ – last year at Manville High School and this year at Montgomery High School.
The Wreaths Across America convoy began its trip from Washington County, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 8. It is scheduled to arrive in Arlington on National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 15, where it will be met by thousands of volunteers who will place a wreath on the headstones at the cemetery.
On August 7, 2014 Chapter 27 celebrated National Purple Heart Day along withe the announcement that Hillsborough Township NJ has been proclaimed a Purple Heart Community.
The 2nd Annual Purple Heart Day Ceremony was held in The Garden of Honor adjacent to the Municipal Building in Hillsborough Township New Jersey.
On August 7th, 2012, Chapter 27 dedicated a plaque that was donated by the Chaper to Hillsborough Township. The plaque was placed in the already existing Garden of Honor. Use the link below to see the full story as it appeared in the Hillsborough Patch.
The following article appeared in the Star Ledger on 7/2/2006. It's written by Paola Loriggo.
Fred Millet's Army hat is covered in pins and badges. Some are marks of rank, like the 79th Infantry Division, 5th Ranger Battalion crest emblazoned across the front. But the majority are mementos from war memorials and monuments the 86-year-old World War II veteran has visited over the years.
Millet, who lives in South Bound Brook, has traveled to memorial sites states away. He recently experienced one of his shortest trips: roughly six miles, the distance between his home and the new Somerset County Veterans Memorial Plaza in Somerville, which officially opened on Thursday.
"The Washington, D.C., memorial is a massive circle with all the states," Millet said, comparing it to the plaza's 55-foot circular court, which holds a flag for each of the armed forces' five branches. "But this, this is special to Somerset County. This is wonderful."
The 22,000-square-foot plaza is cradled between the town's administration building and municipal court, on the site of the former Somerville Armory. It features a monument to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a distinction offered to those who have shed blood in battle. The goal: to recognize the sacrifices made by the county's roughly 21,000 veterans.
"When this nation called, you answered, leaving home, hearth and loved ones," said Gary Englert, director of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs' Division of Veteran Services. "As a D-Day veteran, your mark on history will endure through the ages."
Millet, who sat close to the stage, stood at attention with his fellow veterans while a medley of patriotic songs rang out in the plaza, each one representing a different unit of the armed forces.
Commander Frank Bubb Jr. of the Sgt. H.J. Kupper-Chapter 27 of the Purple Heart thanked the county freeholders for their support and said the county was a great place for veterans. He added, "It's the numerous veterans who live in Somerset County who make Somerset County a great place to live."
A few years ago, members of Chapter 27 approached the freeholders with a proposal for the monument, not knowing that the location had been considered for a park in the early '90s.
"When the Purple Heart group approached us, we realized, 'Wow, what a perfect opportunity to combine the park concept with a memorial to all Somerset County veterans,'" including recipients of the Purple Heart, said Freeholder Rick Fontana during the dedication ceremony, which drew a crowd of more than 120.
The plaza took more than 10 years to plan, but only a few months to build: The town held a groundbreaking ceremony last fall and unveiled the memorial just in time for Independence Day.
"It was like planning a wedding for six families," Fontana said of the planning process. As the project's liaison, Fontana wanted to make sure no group would feel offended or left out, he said.
The plaza was designed so that monuments to other groups could later be added, the Freeholder said.
During the ceremony, Fontana stressed the monument was a tribute to all veterans, "including those who served on the home front as well as those who were deployed overseas." He asked that Iraq veterans in the crowd stand up, to thunderous applause from the crowd.
Ashley Ganey, 26, was one of two Iraq veterans at the ceremony. Ganey, who volunteered to return to Iraq next April, said the recognition made him feel good. For that reason, the soldier, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division and now recruits for the Army, tries to attend as many veterans events as possible, he said.
David L. Coleman, 73, of the Order of the Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 8371 said he never realized how expansive the plaza would be, though he often drove by the construction site.
The plaza was built by the Hillsborough-based Flanagan's Contracting Group, which obtained the $1,019,670 contract last summer. The project was partly financed by funds left over from the construction of the administration building in 1992.
"They do monuments and memorials nationally -- why not in Somerset County?" Coleman said. "I think it speaks for the patriotism of the citizens of the county."
The following article appeared in the Courier News on 6/25/2006The Somerset County Board of Freeholders will hold a dedication ceremony noon June 29 for the veterans memorial plaza on Grove Street, Somerville. The new 200-foot-long plaza is next to the Somerset County Administration Building.
Its circular formation near Grove Street features flags from each of the five branches of the armed services, plus a flag for the World War II Merchant Marine veterans. It also has a stage area at the opposite end for presentations and public ceremonies.
The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony. Members of local veterans organizations, officials from the 21 towns, local legislators and military personnel have been invited. Free parking is available in the Bernie Field Parking Deck off East High Street behind the plaza.
For more information, contact the Somerset County Public Information Office at (908) 231-7020 or the Veterans Services Division at (908) 704-6357.