SEA GIRT — The firehouse breakfast buffet held at the Sea Girt Fire Department last Saturday was “far from just another event,” according to Janeen Yodakis, the borough’s recreation director.
“As I stood in the middle of the fire department bay, and looked around, what I saw was a beautiful outpouring of love and kindness, which seem to be the pillars of this community,” Ms. Yodakis said of the Veteran’s Day celebration on Nov. 12.
Veterans of military service from the community gathered to enjoy the company of others over sausage, eggs and other breakfast favorites, served by volunteers from the borough.
Active members of the National Guard came to honor the veterans with the presentation of challenge coins — traditional tokens of recognition for special achievement.
Borough officials greeted and visited with the special guests, and listened to their stories of service.
“I had the amazing honor of sitting with a 96-year-old Navy veteran who served in World War II,” said Ms. Yodakis, relating how veteran Ken Hauck “brought me back in time, as he wove his story around me, making me feel as if I was with him on his ship to Okinawa, Japan.”
Next, she said, a Vietnam veteran shared his memories of feeling “despised” by some in his own country, even “spat upon” after returning from service in an unpopular war.
“A very sobering account,” she said. “My heart broke for his,” said Ms. Yodakis.
Ms. Yodakis thanked the Sea Girt Fire Department for hosting, the children of Sea Girt Elementary, Barlow’s for the center pieces, IHOP of Wall for donating pancake batter and the National Guard for their assistance and the volunteers.
“I have often been humbled by this town, in the way that you all seem to so selflessly come together for various causes,” Ms. Yodakis said. “But I think this event put my heart on its knees.”