Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day 2007

World War II veteran Royce Motley was one of about 30 people who took part in the Veterans Day observance Monday (Nov. 12, 2007) at the War Memorial on Watchung Avenue.

Motley served in the U.S. Army and the Air Force for four and a half years. He then worked for the Veterans Administration for 36 years before retiring and has spent 15 years as a volunteer, helping veterans navigate the VA bureaucracy.

"People don't know where to go," he said.

Motley said he helps people get assistance from veterans' hospitals in Lyons and East Orange.

Now 84 years old, Matley had lots of stories about his service in New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II.

"We used to take pilots to the air strip aand wait for the planes to come back," he said. "We would count how many planes were lost."

Matley is looking forward to the promised Veterans Center in the new building at 400 East Front Street that will also house a new senior center and 63 market-rate condos.

"That'll be nice," he said.

Currently, veterans' organizations meet in diverse locations including Elks and Masonic lodges in the city.

Veteran Frank Coit led the ceremonies, which followed observances the day before, on the classic eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Thgere was apparently no publicity for the Sunday ceremonies. Veteran Robert Dixon said he left church to take part Sunday. The Dixon family had a special reason to mark Veterans Day, as granddaughter Jessie Dixon returned home Friday from service in Iraq.

Those who took part Monday made sure proper respect was given to all who served.

Still. it was a small turnout, perhaps because of the overlapping events.

Here's the whole crowd on Monday. Let's do better next year.
--Bernice Paglia


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