They will never forget

| 12 Jun 2012 | 02:46

HAMBURG — It's been more than 200 years since James Edsall, Henry Simpson, Conrad Tinkey and Henry Windfield died. But these Revolutionary War soldiers buried in the Hamburg Baptist Church cemetery were honored recently with brand new tombstones. The four, along with fellow Revolutionary War veteran James Hamilton, whose headstone is in perfect condition, were memorialized by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revoltuion — better known as the DAR.

The Chinkchewunska chapter of the DAR, based in Wantage, dedicated the brand new tombstones on June 9. Getting those stones replaced was a labor of love for the DAR, whose members had to work through the Department of Veterans Affairs to get the new grave markers. DAR member and event organizer Lisaann Permunian took special interest in this project as many of the buried soldiers are her own ancestors: Edsall is her great-great-great-great-great grandfather: likewise Simpson is her great uncle going five times back and Windfield and Hamilton are both distant cousins. “I am who I am today thanks to all that came before me,” Permunian said, “and I’m very happy to be an American.”

Remembrances of soldiers past Chinkchewunska Chapter Regent Wendy Wyman opened the program on June 9 by asking those in attendance to “never forget those who fought for the freedom of their new country.” The crowd, many of whom were in period costume, grew silent as the biographies of each soldier was read. Wyman then thanked Permunian for the legwork it took to see the project through to the end: “Lisa calls this a ‘little project,’ but she’s been working on it for over a year.”

As the congregation moved outside for the laying of flowers and the actual dedication of the new stones, Permunian read a poem to honor one’s ancestors, titled, “Your Tombstone Stands among the Rest,” which received a round of applause from the 50-plus in attendance. The crowd included relatives of the deceased coming from as far as Pennsylvania and Maryland. Flowers were placed on each of the graves and “Taps” was played for the fallen soldiers before the guests moved into the reception hall for refreshments.

The community also was in full support of the dedication: Holes for the new headstones were dug by the Sussex County Sheriff’s SLAP team, the sand for their installation was donated by Rt. 23 Mason and Patio in Wantage, the Revolutionary War flag holders that mark each of the new graves were donated by the American Legion, Post 132 in Franklin, grave flowers were donated by Country Cottage Flowers in Hamburg, and the Hamburg Baptist Church and Hamburg Girl Scout Cadet Troop #94130 combined to provide refreshments after the ceremony. Hamburg Councilman Dan Barr was also in attendance, showing the support of the town.

In addition to the Chinkchewunska chapter, three other DAR chapters were in attendance for the event, one from Freehold, one from Pennsylvania and one from Maryland.

In planning this event, Permunian even went as far as to send out official invitations to Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama. The offices of both called in their regrets due to their busy schedules. Declines aside, Permunian was very excited to have gotten a call from the White House and said she’s "glad I didn’t answer the phone because now I have the message saved!”