Dedication of 9/11 Memorial at Air Victory Museum
Comments of Joe Laufer, Burlington County Historian
May 14, 2011
Burlington County was founded on the principles of peace and justice. Established 318 years ago in 1694 by peace-loving Quakers, Burlington County reflects the struggle of our citizens with the issues associated with the tension between good and evil, love and hatred, and war and peace.
Throughout our county there are unique monuments and memorials associated with the struggle for Liberty. Peace poles, proclaiming in multiple languages the mantra: "May Peace Prevail on Earth" have been erected at Quaker Meeting houses and Churches in nearby Medford, in Chesterfield, Evesham, and Moorestown and a park in Riverside.
A little-known memorial to the unknown Burlington County militiamen who gave their lives as the British invaded our county in 1776 and again in 1778 during the American Revolution sits in the Quaker Burial Ground in Upper Springfield; a statue of the Union Soldier at Rest in the City of Beverly reminds us of Burlington county's robust response to the call to preserve the Union during the Civil War which divided our country 150 years ago, as does the nearby Beverly National Cemetery and the many local cemeteries where civil war heroes, both black and white, are interred.
World War I is remembered by Burlington County highways named after the Battles of the Marne and San Mihiel and the Argonne. There are countless World War II and Korean War monuments throughout the county in almost every community. A few miles from here in Medford we boast of our very own County-wide Viet-Nam memorial wall, and a recently updated post-Viet Nam war memorial.
These unique memorials speak volumes as permanent reminders that the cost of peace has always been the sacrifices of our citizens. Our love of Peace has motivated Burlington Countians to never forget the events and the sacrifices associated with winning and preserving peace.
And so today, we are invited to remember that other struggle we have been involved in for the past ten years -- we call it the War on Terror -- but it all goes back to the day that changed America forever: September 11, 2001. And Burlington Countians, again, are in the forefront , making certain that our citizens NEVER FORGET. Today we dedicate the fifth piece of the twin towers that has been brought to our county. Previous pieces of steel salvaged from these hallowed remains are honored at The Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton; in Oaks Hall in Medford Lakes; at Fire Station 362 in Mount Laurel and another at Mount Laurel Memorial Park.
Today we add the fifth such memorial here in Lumberton, at a most fitting location, the Air Victory Museum. In the words of the dedicated volunteers who were instrumental in bringing this significant artifact to our community: it is a quiet but dignified way to remember, to instruct and reinforce, for present and future generations, to always be vigilant and to NEVER FORGET. It provides an opportunity to reflect upon the tragedy of 9/11 and to remember that vigilance and sacrifice are the ingredients needed in order to maintain the peace that our county founders envisioned as they escaped persecution abroad to establish a community rooted in the principles of love and peace here along the banks of the Delaware, and the Rancocas.
Burlington County has a personal connection to the events of 9-11, as our own LeRoy W. Homer, Jr. of Evesham was the first officer on United Flight 93, where crew members and passengers fought back against their hijackers. And where better to remember our heroic pilot than at the museum dedicated to aviation history and victory.
Thank you to those responsible for advocating for this memorial and whose efforts made it happen and brought us to this day of dedication. It is most fitting that this ceremony takes place on Flag Day and on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9 -11.
Thank you - and God Bless America.