Commentary: The Heroes Among Us

October 10, 2017
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Opinion contributed by Bill Burnett |

My wife and I are selling our home here in Rumson as our sons have gone off to college and we are in the market to downsize but to stay in the Two Rivers area where we moved to in 2001 and raised our family. It has been a privilege to live in such a beautiful area of New Jersey and have made lifelong friends through our children’s school and sports activities.

Last week we looked at a home in the area to see if it fit our needs for an “empty nest” and met the couple who built the house in 1967 and have lived in it since then as they raised their family. They are now ready to “live the dream” and move to Florida for their well-deserved golden years.  As we toured their charming home I noticed an abundance of books relating to aviation and asked the owner if he had been a pilot. “Yes” he humbly stated.  While in his den I noticed a book about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the all-African American Air Force squad that served our country so valiantly in World War Two.  I asked if he served with this group of men and again he humbly but proudly stated “Yes I did.”

As I drove home from the house tour it struck me that this gentleman had come home from the war to a country that was still 20 years away from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and where we still had “colored only” hotels, restaurants and schools. To think that he and his wife have quietly raised their family and enjoyed such rewarding careers in our area makes me even more proud and grateful to have also raised our family here in the Two Rivers area.  I am not using this man’s name because I sensed he would be embarrassed by the attention. His dignity, grace and his handshake like that of a 20-year old will stay with me a long time.  Thank you, sir for your service.

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Bill Burnett,

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