AVM Friend Honored At Well Attended Remembrance Day 

By Cheryl Conway  

Hundreds gathered at the All-Veterans Memorial in Budd Lake on Monday, May 29, to honor the brave military men and women who have served to protect the lives of Americans.  

Just as busy as Memorial Day typically is — whether that includes a ceremony, parade, sporting event or family barbecue  — the 2023 Memorial Day Itinerary was jam-packed with not only the traditional protocols, but a honorable service ceremony for the late Col. Jeanne Murphy, retired. 

The 10:30 a.m. program included the opening ceremony, “National Anthem,” “Pledge of Allegiance,” invocation, placement of memorial wreaths, raising the flags, Taps and 21 tolls of the POW/MIA Ascension Bell and a keynote address by Lt. Col. Alexander Burgos who spoke on “Why We Serve.”    

“Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, a time to reflect on the sacrifices made of those who served and to honor their memories,” says Burgos, Garrison commander of Picatinny Arsenal. “We must never forget the sacrifices they made and the courage that they displayed in the face of danger. 

“For over 150 years our nation has set aside this day to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” continues Burgos.  The day used to be called Declaration Day as family members would decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers and flags. 

“Today is a day to pay tribute at places like the AVM to places like Arlington Cemetery,” says Burgos to about 300 in attendance. “From the Revolutionary War, Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, our military has fought to protect our freedom and defend our way of life.”  

At Picatanny Arsenal, there are 174 red oak trees that have been planted to honor men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice since September 11, 2001, says Burgos. 

“Each tree represents a unique story of a New Jersey hero,” says Burgos, “to reflect on sacrifices made and honor the memories of those who served.” 

One such hero is Col. Jeanne Murphy who was tragically taken this year from injuries sustained after being hit by a car while walking her dog in Hackettstown. Murphy was a leader in the Army Nurse Corp. and public servant. 

 “She’s a story of why we all serve to make our country great,” says Burgos.  

“The freedom we enjoy today does not come without a cost,” says Burgos. “They were earned with the blood, sweat and tears from the fallen heroes. They were parents, siblings, spouses and dear friends. 

“Memorial Day is not only to honor those who are fallen but those who are left behind,” he says. Burgos is grateful for the Gold Star Mothers. 

“Remember the value of freedom, liberty and justice for all; our fallen heroes are a symbol of those values,” he adds.     

In closing, Burgos says “thank you to all the men and women who have served our country. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten. We will always be grateful for your service. May we never forget the true meaning of Memorial Day and may we always honor the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.”  

During the Honorable Service Paver Ceremony, five service pavers were placed to honor Cpl. Brian Mullen who served in the U.S. Marine Corp.; Pvt. 1st Class Seymour Engleberg who served in the U.S. Army; Sgt. Gary Domansi who served in the U.S. Army; Cpl. Peter McCallum Jr. who served in the U.S. Army; and Staff Sgt. Luis Mattacastro of the U.S. Army.  

Immediately after the HSP installation, the AVM began its Honorary Service Ceremony for Murphy, first lady of Centenary University in Hackettstown as her husband Dr. Bruce Murphy is president.  

“We began with an invocation and blessing of Jeanne’s Memorial Tree, which was adorned with white doves of peace,” explains AVM Founder Charlie Uhrmann.  “Jeanne’s husband Dr. Bruce Murphy laid the Memorial Wreath and bouquet of flowers at the base of the tree.   The Centenary University Alumni Association and seven representatives from the U.S. Army placed long stem roses into combat boots in Jeanne’s honor.” 

Uhrmann had doves on the tree and provided dove pins for attendees. 

“Doves are often seen as symbols of peace, spirituality, hope, renewal, transformation, and love,” explains Uhrmann. “They can also represent compassion and kindness to others during difficult transitions. Jeanne dedicated her life to helping others realize and achieve their dreams.  Jeanne understood the many struggles our warriors faced while transitioning from military to civilian life.  Through her love, she gave them strength and guidance.” 

Uhrmann spoke about how she met Murphy and her involvement at the AVM. 

“I consider Col. Jeanne Murphy a friend,” says Uhrmann. As last year’s keynote speaker at the 2022 Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony, Murphy was the first combat female keynote speaker at the AVM. Murphy had delivered a compelling speech regarding the historical role women played on the battlefield. 

The first time Uhrmann met Murphy was when she was weeding the War Dog Memorial to prepare for Memorial Day. That was the “first time anyone introduced themselves to me while on our hands and knees pulling weeds,” says Uhrmann. After she gave Murphy a tour, the university president’s wife was wowed. “I absolutely love this place, how can I help and what do you need?” was Murphy’s response, shares Uhrmann. 

 From that point forward, Murphy offered to play an active role in the volunteerism and planning stages of the memorial and POW/MIA events; attended the AVM Awards Ceremony; and began assisting in the planning stages of the 2023 Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony.   

“She was there for me and the AVM and veterans unconditionally,” says Uhrmann. Two years ago, she and her husband participated in the 24-hour National POW/MIA Vigil. “When she learned we were adding a prayer garden, she was honored to sponsor one of the benches, details of the bench and where it was located.” 

Rev. Karen Gazzillo gave the blessing during the dedication of the red oak tree to honor Murphy. 

The tree was sponsored by the Centenary University Alumni Association and a plaque that reads “When a Door Opens,” a quote selected by Dr. Bruce Murphy. 

“This is a place of peace and beauty for bright new hopes for in memories lovely garden we find peace to heal our hearts,” says Gazzillo. “We pray that Col. Jeanne Murphy will rest in peace knowing that in deed she made this a much better place.”    
Uhrmann is pleased with all of the volunteers and those who attended this year’s ceremony to honor military men and women.  

“We will remain forever grateful to those who gave the time and made the effort to be a part of a program that honors our fallen heroes,” says Uhrmann.  “Please know that your participation made an exponential difference in the healing of a Gold Star Father’s broken heart; a wife who recently lost her husband; a local family who continues to wait for the remains of their beloved to be returned home; and a grieving husband who recently lost his remarkable wife. 

“No truer words were spoken than those of President Abraham Lincoln, “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”  Thank you all for demonstrating that our nation endures because we are willing to give our full measure to honor our nation’s heroes.”  


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