The skies obediently brightened Saturday morning just in time for Morris County Democrats to commemorate a plaque honoring Barack Obama at the All Veterans’ Memorial in Mount Olive.
A veterans’ memorial may seem an odd setting for political festivities, but there’s a bit more to this story than meets the eye.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring Morris County Democrats out to this memorial,” said Chip Robinson, the chair of the county organization. “I’ve never seen it.”
That’s true, but it’s not the whole story.
The All Veterans’ Memorial in Turkey Brook Park is an incredibly moving tribute to not only our nation’s veterans, but the principles and ideals of the United States. Veterans are commemorated, as is the U.S. Constitution and all presidents.
Credit for creating the memorial goes to township resident Charlie Uhrmann.
A few months ago, Uhrmann had a problem. Brick pavers honoring all the nation’s presidents are displayed in front of a wall commemorating the Constitution. Each paver features a quote from the relevant president
and is sponsored by either individuals or an historical organization.
Brick pavers for every president were already in the ground with the exception of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, Uhrmann had a sponsor for Trump, but she was frustrated by the failure of Democrats to step
forward and sponsor Obama.
With an eye toward historical accuracy – and not politics – Uhrmann didn’t want to put in the paver for Trump without having one for Obama.
Uhrmann’s predicament was featured in Insidernj.com back in the spring.
The state Democratic Committee stepped up and sponsored the Obama tribute. Both the Obama and Trump pavers were put in the ground before Memorial Day.
So, Saturday’s event was very much a recognition of the Obama paver.
Seeking to keep with the spirit of the memorial, one of the speakers at a ceremony attended by about 200 or so people was army veteran Lloyd Deans, a township resident.
Robinson also led the crowd in a moment of silence to honor those who gave their lives in the service of the United States.
But one can’t escape politics – certainly not this year.
Another speaker was Tom Malinowski, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 7th District.
Malinowski, who served as assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in Obama’s administration, said the former president always stood with people who had the least. He said he feared the nation was losing that type of spirit.
But he said he took solace from the well-attended protest marches throughout the country and state this year to support women’s rights and gun control. Malinowski said the many young people at those protests delivered a blunt message.
“You know what they are telling us -‘go vote,'” he said.
The 7th District includes only a small – and normally Republican – part of Morris County. Asked afterwards about his aspirations in Morris, Malinowski said only that Democratic support in the county is growing and that “every town is important.”
He apologized in advance for a political cliche so old that it could have been said by any of the presidents honored at the memorial.