2006-03-02 / Other News

Local Seniors Treated To Rousing Dose Of Patriotism

(Clockwise from top left)Attendees who are veterans of the Armed Forces were saluted; retired U.S. Navy and Marine veteran Jim Cava led the crowd in several patriotic numbers, including the stirring “God Bless the USA;” audience members recited the Pledge of Allegiance. 
(Clockwise from top left)Attendees who are veterans of the Armed Forces were saluted; retired U.S. Navy and Marine veteran Jim Cava led the crowd in several patriotic numbers, including the stirring “God Bless the USA;” audience members recited the Pledge of Allegiance. By Neil S. Friedman

The date on the calendar was February 24, but the atmosphere inside the heated Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center last Friday made it feel like the Fourth of July as an active adult group was treated to a rousing patriotic revival led by a retired Marine and Navy veteran.

U.S. Navy Retired Petty Officer Jim Cava brought his “Operation Red, White and Blue” program to local residents to salute America, appropriately during Presidents Week, and honor veterans, as well as current members of the armed forces.

With an American flag on a rostrum and the room decorated with red, white and blue bunting and other patriotic symbols, Cava, a decorated combat veteran, who is now a retired naval third-class naval petty officer who served with the 5th Marines in Vietnam, told the rapt crowd, “American patriotism is respect for our country, our flag and our national anthem…”

Cava addressed more than three dozen residents from Marine Park and surrounding communities during the program, in which he spoke fervently about the nation’s honor and sang several patriotic songs, from George M. Cohan’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Grand Old Flag” that segued into “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He also performed Lee Hazelwood’s poignant “God Bless the USA,” which had a resurgence after September 11, 2001.

During the program Cava singled out the veterans — of the Army, Navy, and Air Force — in the audience to be saluted by the gathering.

The veteran, who lost an arm in combat 36 years ago, said he travels around promoting patriotism essentially because he feels “that which is not loved, withers and dies.” His remarks were peppered with patriotic catchphrases and themes in addition to quotes from presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

                       Photos by Neil S. Friedman Photos by Neil S. Friedman Cava lost his left arm as a result of injuries he received when the helicopter he was in was shot down during a 1968 combat operation while serving with the U.S. Marines in South Vietnam, according to his Web site. As the chopper burned he was pulled to safety by a fellow Marine, then lay helpless in a rice paddy before he was rescued and transported to a hospital for emergency medical treatment.

Despite being retired, Cava, who lives in Passaic County, New Jersey, still serves his country by fostering and promoting the principles of American patriotism while honoring America’s veterans.

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