Borough plans Memorial Day service Sunday, May 27; More Vets’ names to be listed on Honor Roll; Whitelock Memorial June 2

In March 2012, we received this gratifying email from the son of a Riverton military veteran.

From: Martin Edsell
Sent: 03/09/12 04:19 PM
To: rivertonhistory@usa.com
Subject: veteran photo – Gerard Clark Edsell

Gerard Clark Edsell

Dear Mr. McCormick,
I enjoy reading the many articles you write for the Historical Society of Riverton (found online at:  https://rivertonhistory.com/ ).

In the February issue of the Gaslight News, you requested photos of servicemen and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. My father’s name (Gerard Clark Edsell) was added to the Memorial in a ceremony last Veteran’s Day (11-11-11).

Attached are two photos of my father, either of which you may use in your online Honor Roll Album.

During World War II, my father was a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  From Nov. 1940 until Dec. 1945, he was stationed both stateside and on various islands overseas (Guadalcanal, New Caladonia, Bouganville, Mumda, and Manilla).

A resident of Riverton for over fifty years (from 1950 until his death in 2003), my father along with my mother (Eileen) raised seven children in the town. All of us have fond memories of growing up there.  Though the last Edsell moved out of Riverton just this past December, we can all continue to follow your articles online.

Mr. McCormick, thank you for your good work in keeping alive the history of our town and in helping to honor our veterans.

Sincerely,
Martin Edsell

Shortly afterward, I updated the online Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album. With Memorial Day just two weeks away, this is a good time to renew our request for readers to supply us with photos of Riverton service men and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. The Borough website has information about how to verify eligibility.

Citizens assembled on Memorial Day 2011, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

Mayor Bill Brown recently wrote to let us know that the Memorial Day service will be held on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.  The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will add the following names to the Veterans Honor Roll that day:

Armand J. Bianchini Joseph A. Creighton, Jr. Robert I. Heck
George E. Horner Jr. Donald R. Hubbs Elwood C. Johnson
John S. Latimer Joseph Matera Bryan H. Norcross
Frank C. Quattrocchi Richard W. Schwering Monroe O. Steedle
Donald R. Taylor Thomas C. Whitelock
Officer Thomas C. Whitelock

Military veteran Thomas C. Whitelock (listed above) will also be honored with a memorial of another kind on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

On Jan. 14, 1976, the seven-year veteran Riverton patrolman was killed in the line of duty as the result of responding to a call of a suicidal man in an apartment on Lippincott Avenue.

The Police Department and the Borough invites the community to the plaque dedication ceremony to honor Patrolman Whitelock’s heroism at the corner of Broad and Main Streets near the gazebo on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

The Riverton Borough website has more information about Officer Whitelock and the ceremony here.

Burlington County Times staff writer Matt Chiappard relates more details of this tragic story in an article titled, “Decades later, a fitting memorial for a fallen Riverton officer”.

If you wish, you may join others who have left a reflection on the Officer Down Memorial Page.

To make a donation to the Thomas C. Whitelock Memorial and its maintenance, contact the Riverton Police Association, Attn: Memorial Fund, 501 Fifth St., Riverton, N.J. 08077.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs posts a straightforward answer to the FAQ (frequently asked question),

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

It is our privilege to devote part of rivertonhistory.com to honor Riverton veterans. It is a small, symbolic way say to all service men and women in the armed forces, “Thank you for your service.”

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan

Did you know that Memorial Day had its origin with the observance of placing flowers on the graves of Civil War dead? Dozens of communities throughout the North and South claim to have started the ritual that came to be called Decoration Day, but it was Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, who issued General Orders No. 11 with these eloquent words:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…

… Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

vintage Memorial Day postcard from Moore's Postcard Museum

The restoration of the Riverton War Memorial and grounds to a place of solemn beauty along with the recent effort to recognize veterans who served during other conflicts in addition to World War Two seem to have turned back the clock to a former time.

On a day seen by some communities as simply part of a three-day weekend that heralds the start of summer, Riverton shows that Memorial Day is a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Consider stopping by the Memorial on Sunday, May 27, and at the gazebo at Broad & Main on Saturday, June 2, to remember our veterans and a police officer, without whom, the pages of history would tell a much different story.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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