By Steve Sears
A new Ascension Bell Tower was dedicated at Mount Olive’s Turkey Brook Park All Veteran’s Memorial Grounds site on Saturday, September 5.
The site, which is in its 15th year, was founded by Charlie Uhrmann.
The event started at 11:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m.
“It is New Jersey’s premiere memorial now,” says Uhrmann of the site. “It is 1.3 acres of different monuments, and it keeps getting better and better.” Urhmann and her group had decided that, during their front end event of the 24-hour POW/MIA vigil (which is held the third week of September), the American Legion would come and recite the names of the POWs and MIAs, and it was mentioned to Uhrmann that it would be nice if a bell was rung after recitation of names.
However, Uhrmann didn’t just want an average looking bell at the monument. “It just didn’t have enough impact,” she says. For a few years, she contemplated having something additional built for the site. One day, she looked at the POW/MIA flag and said, ‘That’s it. We’re going to build a guard tower – replicate a guard tower – and then we’ll put a four-sided bell inside that guard tower.’ It’s 11’ high, about 54” between each one of the legs, and inside as a four-sided, stainless steel bell that has various tones.” The POW/MIA logo is on the front of the bell, and the other three sides are inscribed POW, MIA, and PTSD. The different tones from each side represent the individual’s name, rank, serial number, and war engaged in.
Roughly 80 Rolling Thunder and Legion Riders rode in at 1:00 p.m. and made a wall around the perimeter of the All Veterans Memorial, each holding a POW\MIA flag. Invited Vietnam Veterans unveiled the bell at 1:45 p.m.
Uhrmann recognizes the talent of Tim Sheldon, who built the tower. “We are especially grateful to Tim Sheldon, owner of Wicked Workz for his expertise, he has been a pleasure to work with. He dedicated himself to this project and delivered one of the most meaningful elements at the AVM.”
“It’s kind of like a spiritual background,” says Uhrmann of the AVM site. “One of the things that I think is remarkable is I don’t know of anybody – even when there’s soccer games going on and everything else – everybody has said 100%, ‘This place for some reason makes us feel like we’re closer to our loved one who passed.’ And I appreciate that, because that was our intent, to honor the services of those who served, but more or less, to help heal the living. Also, to teach our people what the cost of liberty is. That’s why we put the POW/MIA wall on the other side of the Liberty Wall. I think it’s important that we shared that wall for those two concepts.”
“We promised the families of POW/MIA warriors that their beloved would not be forgotten; we intend to keep that promise.”
The All Veterans Memorial at Turkey Brook Park is located at 30 Flanders Road in Mount Olive. Visit www.allveteransmemorial.org for more information.