Former Mayor of Madison and Korean War Veteran, Jack Dunne is on a mission to honor the many Madison citizens who have served the country in the military.
A fourth generation Madison native, his roots run deep here. For 31 years he served as deputy chief detective at the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. He was co-owner of Dunne’s Hardware for 15 years, served on the town council and then as mayor in 2000-2003. He and his wife of 59 years, Roberta, work together with a committee of concerned citizens to ensure that Madison’s legacy of service continues and its veterans are honored.
Dunne has spearheaded many veterans’ memorial efforts here in Madison. In the past, Dunne organized the Memorial Day parade. About 15 years ago he worked with the committee and town council to have memorial plaques set up at the homes of all 54 Madison citizens who died serving their county in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Dunne’s work on the Madison War Memorial Book Committee may be the most emblematic of his mission, however. That committee published “Always with Us” in 1998 and the preface to the book states, “Dedicated to those from Madison who gave their life, the supreme sacrifice, in the name of freedom during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They are more than a name. They loved and were loved. They smiled, felt pain, played games and were sometimes pranksters, as young boys will be. They had ambitions and dreams. Some had wives and children. They walked the streets of Madison with friends. They lost their lives in wars for our nation, for our community, for us. They will remain a part of Madison’s history. They will never be forgotten. They are Always with Us.” The book relies on personal letters, memorabilia and photographs to preserve the story of the lives of those killed in war and bring their stories to life.
Dunne’s mission continues with his current project to spearhead an effort to renovate the walkway, the WWI memorial in James Park. The memorial was built in 1926 and has the names of 334 Madisonians, who served in WWI, recorded on it. About 15 years ago, Dunne worked with the town to have the distinct eagle statue and monument refurbished, but the blacktop walkway on which is stands has continued to deteriorate and has reached a “disgraceful” state.
The monument is the site of the Veterans Day ceremony and the starting point of the Memorial Day parade. Due to the dilapidated state of the walkway, Dunne and a group of other concerned citizens are currently organizing the “Walk with Us” memorial project in cooperation with the town council. A new walkway will be laid with pavers, some of which will be engraved with the name and service branch of Madison veterans. The engraved pavers may be dedicated for a cost of $75 each. Already more than 500 memorial pavers have been sold.
“Our goal was to sell 300 but we figured maybe shoot for 400. So far already 500 have been sold. We may even sell as many as 600,” said Dunne. “It has been very, very successful.”
Some people purchase engraved plaques in honor of a family member or loved one who served. Others have chosen to “adopt” a Madison veteran who may not otherwise have family or friends to commemorate their service. Some veterans have purchased engraved pavers in their own name as well.
So far people from 24 states and more than 30 towns have purchased memorial pavers honoring Madison’s veterans. There has even been one purchased by someone overseas. The end of September is the cutoff date for purchasing an engraved paver. The rest of the pavers will be delivered directly to the site when construction is expected to begin in mid-October.
The new walkway will do much to beautify that area of the park but even more importantly will encourage visitors to reflect on the sacrifices made by Madison veterans both living and departed. That is Mr. Dunne’s mission and it is due partly to his work and vision that Madison’s many veterans continue to be remembered and honored today.
To commemorate a Madison veteran with a memorial paver go to
www.rosenet.org/uploads/23/veterans_memorial_pavers_app.pdf or call Jack Dunne at 973-822-2057.