Husband Buried at Cemetery, But I Still Oppose Vets Chapel

Letter to the Editor: Husband Buried at Cemetery, But I Still Oppose Vets Chapel
Source: The News of Cumberland County / December 01, 2010

To the Editor:

I have for some time not addressed the issue of the Veteran’s Chapel, but feel I must not keep the sentiments I feel to myself. My husband enlisted in the Navy in 1948; he served during Korea, the Cold War, and his last duty station was aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, which would deploy to the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam.

I still remember the day our sons and I took their father to the ship for that duty. The people who protested the war were there with their signs and jars of urine to throw on the cars as their dependents were taking these men to a place where they would be placed in harm’s way.

These protesters didn’t realize we didn’t want them to go, but it was their job. They signed on for the long haul, and it was their duty to go. As they went off, it was our duty to stay behind and keep the “home fires burning,” to borrow an old phrase. It was our duty to make sure these men of honor would not have to worry about what was happening in our lives, so long as they could concentrate on the job at hand.

My husband, who was my best friend, passed away in June 2006 and rests in Veterans Cemetery. I would hate to think there are people out there who believe we do not honor these heroes simply because we are not in favor of the building of this chapel. It is not just the cost involved today, but the cost that will continue over the years.

Mr. Magazzu may say it is only 20 cents a day, or week, or month or year, but that is an absolute untruth. This project will become a line item in the county budget year after year as the cost of maintenance continues and taxes increase. I know if my husband were here, he would say, “I’d rather know that you won’t lose the house because of tax increases, than see a chapel that will seldom be used to be built in our “honor.”

The cemetery is a very peaceful place, and I go to pay my respects, but I feel closer to my husband working in our yard, because that’s what he loved to do. I wonder why the freeholders are so gung-ho to build this chapel, but cannot or will not organize a decent ceremony at the cemetery on Memorial Day to honor our loved ones. They only supply a trumpeteer to play “Taps,” which takes all of 2 minutes. It is always very beautiful and sad, but to have the freeholders attend a ceremeny with the playing of music for each branch, the reading of appropriate poetry or old “war stories” of their loved ones would mean so much.

That, my friends, is honoring those who have paid such a dear price for our right to attend such a ceremony. I thank all those who have paid so dearly for my right to express these thoughts.

Estella Cleveland
Hopewell Twp.

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