Good morning. Thank you all for being here.
The Piermont Pier. It is a major aspect of what defines our Village. It is our most prominent physical feature. Built by Eleazar Lord in 1839, it stretches a mile out into the middle of the majestic Hudson River. How awesome is it to be standing at the end of the Pier, surrounded by water, listening to the sounds of Nature all around you. For our Community, it is a landmark that lead to the very name of our Village: “Pier – Mont”. But for half a million soldiers in World War 2, it had an entirely different meaning. They marched from Camp Shanks to the end of the Pier to be loaded onto ships that would take them across the ocean, and into battle. They landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought in the European Campaign. Sadly, many of those who departed from the Pier, never returned.
Coming home after the war ended, the Pier was the first place that many soldiers first stood on American soil again. For those who did not return, the Pier has become hallowed ground, commemorated by the “Last Stop” monument.
Last November, I received the following email from a Mr. Jeffrey Galatin:
“Dear Mayor Tucker – After I recently visited Piermont Pier from the U.K., with my brother and sister-in-law who live in Tenafly N.J., I was inspired to write this poem which you may wish to share with your town”.
I do wish to share his poem with all of you on this sacred day. It is called:
‘LAST STOP U.S.A.’
Blackened teeth break the surface
Of waters deep that ferried troops
Not knowing what they were to face
Some dying alone or in bloody groups
Piers that witnessed a tragic crossing
Hopeless from the very start
Brave men who withstood the tossing
And buffeting that the ocean did impart
Stark markers point sadly to the sky
Their jagged edges cut the air
Where those who were about to die
Innocently left with the nation’s prayer
Freedom hard fought won the peace
Carved out by armies overseas
Memories survive and never decrease
As grateful thanks our heart decrees
Returning safe to their home again
Greeted as heroes by the cheering crowd
Our proud steadfast women and men
With heads held high and spirit unbowed
Now children happily play by the shore
Crossing dead stumps like stepping stones
Frenzied sounds of departure are no more
Whilst the world silently reflects, and atones
I would like to thank Mr. Galatin for that beautiful poem. It demonstrates how the Piermont Pier continues to inspire both residents and visitors!
To quote Rockland County Journalist Arthur H. Gunther III, “Many good people, many ordinary ones made so extraordinary in calamity’s forging, marched in Piermont on the way to war. Not all returned, and those who did had to live the lives of their buddies, fulfilling the promises of a safe and secure democracy”.
On behalf of myself and the Trustees of the Piermont Village Board, I thank you for attending today’s service. Enjoy the day, but as you do, keep a thought of our Veterans, both alive and fallen, in your hearts.