OCEAN COUNTY – Local historians, students and county officials will join with the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States entrance into the First World War.
The ceremony, to be held in Historic Courtroom 1 in the Ocean County Courthouse at 12 noon on April 6, will honor the 2,433 men who served in the War to End All Wars.” Of those men, 75 made the ultimate sacrifice and never returned.
The event is free and open to the public.
“Ocean County doesn’t forget our veterans,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who will serve as master of ceremonies. “One hundred years later we still honor these brave men who left their homes to fight for freedom on the bloody battlefields of Europe.”
Bartlett, a retired history teacher in the Toms River Regional Schools, recently completed his own study of the war by reading 100 different books about the First World War.
“They say war is hell and this war was truly hell,” he said. “Poisonous gas, the machine guns, tanks, airplanes and artillery barrages the likes of which had never been seen before led to the deaths of more than 11 million military personnel and nearly 7 million civilians.”
While the war in Europe began in July 1914, the United States didn’t declare war on Germany until April 6, 1917.
Thursday’s ceremonies will include readings from local period newspapers by Toms River high school students, a performance by the Garden State Philharmonic, insights from local historians and a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by Freeholder Bartlett.
Ocean County Historian Timothy G. Hart said Courtroom 1 was chosen for the ceremony because like their Civil War predecessors, Ocean County soldiers heading for war in 1917 first gathered at the county courthouse.
To mark the occasion, the exterior of the courthouse will be decorated with red, white and blue bunting typical of the period, he said.
For more information on the event, contact Hart at 732-929-4779.