On behalf of myself, Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Ballantyne and the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Executive Board, I would like to wish each and every one of you and your families a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.
As you know, our Local Unions engage in a multitude of volunteer projects and we are extremely involved in the communities where we live and work. On this Memorial Day, I wanted to highlight a project that we were involved in that speaks to the service and dedication of the men and women who gave their lives for our country.
In the spring of 2010, our members helped to construct the replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The monument, which is one-third of the size of the official Memorial in Washington D.C., is constructed of reinforced concrete and laminated with black granite panels. It displays the names of more than 58,000 service members killed in the Vietnam War.
Our Local Unions from the former New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters (LU 1743 and LU 623) provided a significant amount of assistance in building this Memorial. Also involved were contractors including: Pro Concrete; BayShore and Rebar; BAC Locals 5 and 7; and Iron Workers Local 350. The concept of the project’s design, construction and unveiling was an effort of the Wildwood Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 955, the American Legion and Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano, who pushed for years to make this a reality.
This project holds a special place in my heart, as one of the names on the wall is my father’s, Army 1st Lieutenant William C. Sproule, Jr., who was killed in action in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, while conducting combat operations as a platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade on May 10, 1968.
I would be remised not to thank our Brother and retired Council Representative, Jeff Thiel, also known as “Sharky”, who led the charge in gathering members of our locals to help build this monument. As long as I live, I will never forget the day that he unveiled the drawings and the timeline to build this tribute to so many who gave their lives for our country. Looking back over the years on the hundreds of volunteer projects that our organization has been involved in, this project hit home for me and the many others whose friends’ and families’ names are forever etched in black granite on the wall.
As I took the time to reflect and write this message, I realized that on this particular volunteer project, I had a rare opportunity not only to participate, but also to be a beneficiary. When you are helping out your local on the next volunteer project that they engage in, take a minute to look at your deeds from the perspective of the recipients. I can tell you first-hand that this Council and our locals have touched the lives of many.
We must never underestimate the positive energy we give back to our communities, while working on these projects regardless of size or scope. Most importantly, let us not forget those in our country's armed forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom.
Happy Memorial Day Brothers and Sisters.
William C. Sproule
President/ NJ Regional Manager
Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters