During the years 1991 through 2001 when the committee first began to consider the nature of a veterans memorial for Montgomery Township, we firmly believed that a key element of the memorial should be the names of Montgomery residents who had served our nation in either the armed forces or the merchant marine during times of war. We recognized that Montgomery’s boundaries have changed over the years, and decided that those who lived in what is no longer part of Montgomery would be considered Montgomery residents provided where they lived was part of Montgomery at the time of their service. Specifically, those who lived in parts of what are now Princeton and Rocky Hill during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are considered to have been Montgomery residents.
One of the most traditional ways for communities to recognize veterans is to include only the names of those who were residents of the community at the time they entered their military service or service in the merchant marine. However, this criterion was virtually impossible to implement, particularly when researching the names of those who served during our earliest wars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Since it was also our desire to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, when identifying those Montgomery residents who had served, we initially decided to include the names of all Montgomery residents, past and present, who had served in times of war, rather than just listing those who were residents of Montgomery at the time they entered the service.
Our research through the year 2000 has yielded the names of approximately eight hundred and fifty Montgomery residents who have served our nation in times of war. While it may not be traditional to include all these names on veterans memorials, we believe it is important that they be included because they are the names of people who have been the very fabric of Montgomery Township and who have determined the nature and content of our community as we enter the third millennium.
Early in the third millennium the nature of Montgomery’s population has changed significantly. Along with our growth from around 10,000 people in 1990 to nearly 30,000 people today, we have become a much more transient community. In addition to our new retirement and assisted living communities, we also have developed a core population of younger and upwardly mobile families. These families are attracted by our proximity to a number of major corporate centers as well as by the outstanding reputation of our school system. Because of their upward mobility, many of these families move on in a relatively short period of time. While some of these residents may have served, they are more properly and traditionally recognized by their hometowns at the time they entered the armed forces or the merchant marine. The Montgomery Veterans Memorial Committee therefore believes that, beginning with the third millennium, it is appropriate to add to the Montgomery Veterans Memorial only the names of those who are Montgomery residents when they enter the armed forces or the merchant marine and who serve during times of war.
It is important to remember that our web site is intended to provide additional and appropriate information supporting the memorial. While we chose not to include on the memorial itself the names of those who, beginning with the third millennium, were not residents of Montgomery when their service began, we will include these names on our website. While this presents some administrative burdens as we could well have a significant number of veterans moving into Montgomery in any given year, these burdens are not insurmountable. In addition, a web site is much easier to correct and update than the granite stellae at the memorial.
The criteria listed above provide several significant advantages. First, we will always recognize the wartime service and sacrifice of those who brought Montgomery Township from its very beginnings to the third millennium. Second, we will always recognize those from Montgomery who enter the armed forces and merchant marine during future times of war. Third, and in keeping with our original goal, through the capabilities of our website we will always be able to recognize all the residents of Montgomery who have served our nation in times of war, without regard to whether or not they were Montgomery residents when their service began.