Today I wake up on a day set aside for those, like myself, who served their country. But I and my brothers and sisters in arms know it’s not only for us but the country we served. It is for America, the nation we defend.

I, Jacob Magiera, am a veteran of the Korean Conflict. I was drafted and served 23 months. My training was in Camp Pickett, Virginia. Where one trained is a very important memory for veterans and it’s one of the first questions one veteran asks another because it’s a place you never forget. I then went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to learn Electronic and Fire Control Radar. With nine months and five days left I was transferred to Yokohama, Japan then to the north of Japan. I served my country and was honorably discharged as a Private First Class.

There are others throughout Roselle Park’s history who have served. It is so important that our library has the word ‘Veterans’ as part of its name. Some who served gave their last full measure. Most returned home. Today is for those who returned home even though veterans cannot help but think of those who did not return or came home with wounds. That was the case before and it still is happening now. Some veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress. Some veterans have been wounded and live with severe physical injuries. Some have become homeless.

Everyone should remember that today is for them too.

That is why I wear my jacket around from Labor Day till Memorial Day. To help everyone remember every day, not just Veterans Day. It also is me saying ‘I do not forget’ to my fellow Defenders of Freedom.

There are generations or men and women from Roselle Park who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other conflicts throughout the world.

Darwin Roman is a young Marine Corps veteran that my colleague spoke with. Darwin is from Roselle Park and he served from 1998-2002. For Darwin, Veterans Day reminds him of  the sacrifices of not just himself but the men and women who served before and after him. It also reminds him of the tradition and camaraderie that all veterans, young and old, still share that transfers regardless of generation.

Darwin also wants people to know that Veterans Day is more than just a ‘thank you’ but also about volunteering and donating to help those who served. He said, “Sure you can thank a vet but maybe go one step further and thank a vet through actions. Right now there is a serious homeless veteran problem throughout the country and in New Jersey. There are foundations out there that support the people who served our country at one point. It could have been during Afghanistan and Iraq, it could have been during Vietnam. There could be right now a warrior who’s fallen, and not fallen in the sense that they died, but fallen in the sense of just down on his or her luck financially, spiritually, or emotionally. A great way to thank a vet is to support them, regardless of politics or the economy or anything else.”

Darwin talked about non-profit organizations like the VFW (link), American Legion (link), Marine Corps League (link), Wounded Warrior Project (link), Operation Chillout (link), and even Veterans Chamber of Commerce-NJ (link) right here in Roselle Park that support veterans.

Today will have residents come together at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honor and thank those who served, and are actively serving, from Roselle Park. From one veteran to another, to all others, I say thank you. I, along with others, will be there in front of the Roselle Park Veterans Memorial Library to honor and remember those Defenders of Freedom. Hopefully those who cannot attend will take a moment at 11 o’clock to pause and, at the very least, thank veterans.