Remembering Veterans Today

Today is Veteran’s Day – a day to honor and remember veterans’ service and sacrifice. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montclair will not hold its traditional outdoor ceremony at Edgemont Park. Instead, Montclair TV34 will air a virtual tribute to all those who served and continue to serve our country.

Watch the virtual Veterans Day tribute with a message from Mayor Sean M. Spilller on the Montclair TV34 YouTube channel:

Full episodes of previous Veterans Day ceremonies will air on TV34 on Wednesday, November 11, during the following times:

2019 Tribute – 10:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
2018 Tribute – 11:00 a.m., 4:30 p.m., & 7:30 p.m.
2017 Tribute – 11:45 a.m., 5:15 p.m., & 8:15 p.m.

The Annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance was held in Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in Newark on Wednesday, November 4th.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. (center) presented the 2020 Essex County Community Star Award to Irvington resident Cheryl “Kit” Turner (fifth from left), a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and Founder/CEO of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, which assists homeless veterans. With them are (from left) Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne, Isabel Cruz who was representing Congressman Donald Payne, Jr., Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Clarence Jackson from DAV Chapter 3 in Newark, Sheriff Armando Fontoura who is an Army veteran, Register Juan Rivera who is a Marine veteran and 2018 Community Star Award recipient and Navy Veteran Bill Squires.

During the ceremony, the County Executive presented the 2020 Essex County Community Star Award to Irvington resident Cheryl “Kit” Turner, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and Founder/CEO of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, which assists homeless veterans.

“Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have put their lives on hold to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad. Our Essex County Veterans Memorial Park was created to provide our veterans with a place to find serenity and comfort and provide a constant reminder to the public about their contributions and sacrifices,” DiVincenzo said. “We are proud to stand with our veterans at this important occasion, give them our respect and thank them for representing our country with valor and bravery,” he added.

“Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner has never stopped serving her country and her community. She served honorably in the Air Force, Army National Guard and Air Force Reservist and used the leadership skills she learned in the armed forces to become the first female to serve as Commander of the Montclair American Legion and Irvington VFW. Her service continues today helping one of our most vulnerable populations – our homeless veterans – to live with dignity,” he noted.

“I always wanted to wear the uniform. It’s been a great honor and I love doing what I do. I understand what our veterans are going through, and I want to let them know that someone cares about them,” Turner said.

“What you have done for our country both during your time in the service and at home is tremendous. A lot of pressure is placed on the shoulders of our veterans and to have someone like Ms. Turner here to support them when they come home is so important,” U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill said.

The 2020 Essex County Community Star Award plaque states: “Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner has never stopped serving her country and her community. While in the Air Force, she attained the rank of Master Sergeant specializing as a prefabrication and parachute specialist. Upon retiring, she joined the Army National Guard and then transferred to the Air Force Reserves where she worked in the Air Med Evacuation. Even after her second retirement from the military, Kit’s dedication to duty was not complete as she became the first female commander of American Legion Post 251 in Montclair and then repeated the feat when she took over leadership of VFW Post 1941 in Irvington. Never slowing down, Kit has turned her attention to helping a vulnerable population – our homeless veterans. As the founder and CEO of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, she is spearheading efforts to assist veterans with housing, clothing, medical care, food and employment. A trailblazer in the military and her community, we thank you, Kit, for your service to our country and for helping others.”

“We pay a lot of attention to the military in times of war and it’s essential that we pay as much attention when our military comes home. Kit Turner demonstrates there is a still a great need to provide support to the men and women who have served their country,” NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.

“This magnificent park was the vision of our County Executive and it’s here to honor all of our veterans,” said Sheriff Armando Fontoura. The Sheriff recounted the story of Jorge Oliveira, an Essex County Sheriff’s Officer who lost his life while serving with the Army National Guard in the Middle East. A statue in his likeness has been dedicated at the park.

“Veterans have done so much for our country and to protect the rights we enjoy today,” said Prosecutor Ted Stephens, who said he dedicates Veterans Day to his father, who served in the military.

“We appreciate Kit Turner’s dedication to her military service and for her commitment to helping homeless veterans through her foundation, New Hope Village 4 Veterans,” Essex County Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson said.

Clarence Jackson from DAV Chapter DAV Chapter 3 in Newark commended the County Executive for the attention he has given to veterans by naming the Essex County Veterans Memorial Park and Essex County Veterans Courthouse, as well as the myriad of programs offered by the County through the Department of Citizen Services and Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment.

“What a veteran does after they serve their country is just as important as what they do while they are serving in the military. We can’t forget about our veterans who are homeless and that’s why the work being done by Kit Turner is so important,” said Bill Squires, a 2018 Essex County Community Star Award honoree and Navy veteran.

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