From the moment that America declared its independence in 1776, residents who lived in what is now Rockland County have served and given their life fighting for the United States in every war – foreign and domestic. We are reminded of their service and sacrifice in the many cemeteries that dot Rockland’s communities, each with plaques and markers commemorating the numerous wars that Rockland residents fought in.
In 1946, long before there was a Rockland County Legislature, the small and humble County government appointed a Burial Commissioner to oversee the burial of Rockland residents who served in our nation’s military. That Commissioner helped establish the very first veteran’s cemetery in Rockland, however, he spent years in his position lobbying County leaders to purchase a more expansive land that would be sizable enough to bury the next few generations of Rockland heroes.
In 1973, a piece of land was identified as a site for a new County veteran’s cemetery. Sadly, on the very day that the County entered into an agreement to buy the 21 acres for the cemetery, the Burial Commissioner passed away. He was able to achieve his longtime goal of securing a new County veteran’s cemetery for the future, and at a meeting of the County Legislature shortly after his passing, it was decided that the cemetery would be named in his memory.
Today, the Frederick Loescher Memorial Veteran’s Cemetery stands as a tribute to his service to Rockland, and each soul buried in those hallowed grounds reminds us of every eternal sacrifice rendered by each of Rockland’s greatest.
Through the years, so many servicemen and women have returned home from war, lived long and blessed lives in Rockland, and were laid to rest at the Frederick Loescher Memorial Veteran’s Cemetery. Maintaining the dignity of their final resting place has always fallen to Frederick Loescher’s successors. He was replaced in 1973 by Tony Lombardi, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, who went on to serve in that capacity for almost 40 years until his retirement.
The Burial Commissioner is responsible for maintaining the land of the cemetery, caring for the flowers and grass there, and ensuring that every gravesite is clean and dignified. Today, I am pleased that Rocco Marino is carrying forth the great traditions of that proud position.
Rockland County is fortunate to be the home of so many veterans, and our County Veteran’s Service Agency does a terrific job helping each and every one of them. This Memorial Day, let’s also take a moment to remember those no longer with us. If you can, stop by the Frederick Loescher Memorial Veteran’s Cemetery in New Hempstead; if for nothing else, than to bear witness to the fulfillment of the vision that one Rockland County veteran had decades ago for the eternal home of his comrades in arms.