Sussex County History Today: What Memorial Day is for

| 19 May 2024 | 11:18

Hey, Memorial Day weekend. What are you doing? Having a picnic? Seeing a parade? Ah, hot dogs, birch beer soda and some traditional baseball games. It’s all about a good time and a day off, right?

Memorial Day is for us to remember the dead. Veteran’s Day is to remember the veterans. Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for those who died in military service.

Veterans Day, always on Nov. 11, is a day to honor all military veterans, both living and deceased, for their service and sacrifices.

Writing this column, I look out the window to a beautiful day in May. As a typical American, I have a home to live in, enough food to eat and friendly neighbors. I can sleep soundly at night, knowing that there’s a good level of protection from foreign foes attacking my home or marching down the street with orders to do as they say or be shot dead.

I have the liberty to write anything I want in the column without fear of being hanged in the village square. (I might, though, by my editor!)

For those of us who are alive today, we are very dependent on the sacrifices of those who came before us, who made the commitment to go to the defense of our country, and who made that supreme sacrifice.

Let’s take a few moments to consider those in our Sussex County’s history who fought and died for our country.

During the Revolutionary War, on July 20, 1779, the call came for the militia to arise. Farmers in the field dropped their tools and grabbed their muskets. They said goodbye to the family and headed for the Battle of Minisink along the Delaware River.

From Sparta, the youngsters Nathaniel Wade and Daniel Talmage were killed in action. Thomas Schoonover and Stephen Mead - dead. From Deckertown (Sussex), the blacksmith Abram Smith and his brother - killed. Their bones were recovered some 40 years later from the remote spot and taken en masse to a marker near the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen, N.Y.

During the Civil War, on May 3 and 4, 1863, during the large Chancellorsville campaign, our local troops took part in an engagement at the Battle of Salem Church.

There is a marker near the graveyard in Spotsylvania, Va., for the event. Some of those killed from our county included Eli Vangorden of Wantage, Barney Van Orden of Hamburg, Andrew Lambert, Daniel O’Leary and Charles Zeek.

World War I lasted a little more than a year for the United States but we suffered many casualties and deaths. Sgt. Francis Glynn was the first local serviceman to die in that war. He is buried in St. Thomas Aquinas Cemetery in Ogdensburg. American Legion Post 132 on Ed Mitchell Avenue in Franklin was named for him.

Speaking of Mitchell Avenue, Ed was to be on the Ed Sullvan radio show from Europe. He was killed in Germany in April 1945, shortly before the end of World War II in Europe. There are a number of other street names, such as John Wilton Street in Franklin, that are named for those killed in the wars.

Shauger Road in Hardyston is named for a local young man killed in Vietnam.

The list goes on.

Trees have been planted at Picatinny Arsenal, and buildings named, for those killed recently who have local families.

There are more, plenty more, spread across our county.

Spend some thought on those who died in the service to our country - and to us.

Enjoy that hot dog, the ball game and the parades. And also appreciate those who kept the evil enemy away from our shores, our country and our county.

Bill Truran, Sussex County historian, may be contacted at