Dear friends, neighbors, distinguished guests, visitors, and most importantly, cherished veterans.
Welcome to Memorial Day in Somerville, 2021. We gather once again on sacred soil to honor the servicemen and women buried here and throughout the world both in tranquil cemeteries and at the turbulent ocean bottom. Collectively, we have endured a year of sacrifice, tragedy, and recovery since we last met here, and it is fitting that today we continue this tradition of remembrance by our presence and silent witness.
There have been well over one million combat deaths in our nation’s history. Today I wish to highlight a U.S. Army nurse who died in service in Vietnam. Captain Eleanor Grace Alexander was born in Riverdale, NJ on September 18, 1940. A 1961 graduate of D’Youville College School of Nursing in Buffalo, NY, Eleanor enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in May of 1967 after working at Madison Hospital In New York City for six years. Despite her personal concerns about the escalating conflict in Southeast Asia, Eleanor asked to be assigned to the Vietnam theater of operations, and began her tour on June 6, 1967, exactly twenty-three years since the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. She was assigned to the 44th Medical Brigade, 85th Evacuation Hospital, 55th Medical Group, stationed near
On November 30, 1967, Captain Alexander was on a helicopter relief mission aboard a U.S Air Force C-7B De Havilland Caribou airship that crashed five miles south of Qui Nhon. She was one of twenty-six lives lost that day, five of whom were medical personnel. Captain Alexander’s military career lasted only one hundred and seventy-four days, and she was laid to rest in St. Andrew’s Cemetery in her beloved Riverdale with full military honors, including a posthumous Bronze Star. Captain Eleanor Grace Alexander is New Jersey’s only female service death from the Vietnam era.
As we leave here today to celebrate the beginning of summer and the return of social activities with family and friends, let us reflect on the courage and dedication shown by the lives of Captain Eleanor Grace Alexander and her fellow fallen warriors whose graves bear the Stars and Stripes. If you find yourself at the sobering Vietnam War Memorial on Washington’s National Mall, seek out panel 31E, line 8. Let Captain Alexander know that her sacrifice is remembered and appreciated. and tell her that her legacy continues to inspire us all as we strive to work together for peace and freedom throughout the world.
May God continue to look over our New Cemetery and all those who rest in its shade. May He watch over Somerville and all who call her home, and may He continue to bless our United States of America.
Mayor Dennis Sullivan
Somerville, New Jersey
May 31, 2021