RS New Jersey hosts inaugural Service to America Day
By Cpl. Wil Acosta
| | April 01, 2006
1st MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, Colts Neck, N.J. --
Two helicopters circled the area before landing on the baseball diamond. Once the dust from the AH-1 Super Cobra and the UH-1 Huey cleared, a convoy of camouflaged tactical vehicles rolled in … then came the Marines with their rifles and bayonets. And just like that, the perimeter was surrounded.
However, this was no secret operation to gain control of an objective. These Marines were welcomed guests, and their mission was to wow the 3,000 spectators attending the inaugural Service to America Day at Colt’s Neck High School, April 1.
Parents, community leaders and veterans turned out in support of the Freehold Regional High School District Navy ROTC, who co-hosted the event with the help of Recruiting Station New Jersey.
The large crowd was due to well-placed posters and radio commercials that announced the opportunity for the public to see static displays of Marine weapons, vehicles and aircraft in addition to performances by the Quantico Marine Band and the Silent Drill Platoon.
“We tried to have something for everyone,” said Sgt. Kevin Hayner, the marketing and public affairs Marine for RS New Jersey. “Having the Quantico Band and the Silent Drill Platoon perform allowed the public to see Marines in action, while the static displays [of vehicles and aircraft] provided the crowd with an opportunity to get a closer look and ask questions. We also set up an inflatable obstacle course and a pull-up bar to challenge the younger kids in the crowd and provide them with a chance to have some fun.”
To top it off, the guest of honor was Lt. General James N. Mattis, commanding general of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Center.
Mattis thanked the crowd for the invitation and paid tribute to the civilians and veterans who were honored for service to their country. He then went on to quote something written by Thomas Paine more than two centuries ago.
“These are the times that try men's souls,” said Mattis. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered."
Eugene Delmonico, a 24 year-old native of Morristown, N.J., found the words to be just as true today as they were during the Revolutionary War.
“Hearing the General speak reminded me that the struggle for freedom is ongoing,” said Delmonico. “I thought the amount of people who turned out for the event on Saturday was a clear indication of how much the community supports the service of all our armed forces who fight for that freedom."