Veterans Day was always a significant day growing up and remains so today. I want to share with you a little about the man who instilled so much into my life, inspired me daily and was the greatest veteran a person could ever know.
My grandfather, Joseph Harold Wallace, joined the U.S. Coast Guard in May 1942. His service included assignments aboard ships in the Asiatic Pacific area, as well as the European, African and Middle Eastern area. He was released from active duty after three years and eight months of honorable service as a sonarman first class. Following his service during World War II, he was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1851, Newark, where he was post commander in 1956. Upon moving to Bayville, he transferred to V.F.W. Post 9503.
He went to the post every single day to do make it look the best it could. Always a new landscaping project, new project in the picnic area, new coat of paint, supporting fundraisers, etc. You name it he did it every single day (holidays too) of his life. His fellow veterans were one of the most important people to him and were his extended family. He often referred to the VFW as “The Club.” Still to this day the Bayville VFW Post 9503 has their picnic grove named in his honor, The Joe Wallace Grove.
Throughout my years at Central Regional middle and high school he drove me so I did not have to take the bus and he was already heading that way. I heard more stories than even his own children about the war and his time serving our great country. When I would share some of the stories he would tell me to my mom she would often say “I never heard about that.”
I was a lucky kid growing up. Not only did I have an amazing grandfather, who was more like my father to me, but I also learned many things about how our veterans sacrifice so much and how passionate he was about supporting the veterans when they came home. He was truly a significant part of the “Greatest Generation” and one of the greatest, most proud veterans in history.
I miss our daily drives up Veterans Blvd and hearing the stories.
Take the time to speak to our veterans, hear the stories and honor them today and everyday.