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Memorial Day: Remembering Sylvester Land

May 30, 2011

Sargent Sylvester Land 1943-1967, ACHS alumni and patriot

Memorial Day Tribute to Sylvester Land: This is the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1961 Graduation Abraham Clark High School (Roselle,NJ). Let’s join to pay tribute to Sylvester Land, one of the most spirited, friendly and humorous members of our class. Sylvester was killed in action in Vietnam serving our nation in 1967. Has the first, but not the last of Roselle’s youth to die in Vietnam.

I looked up Sylvester (“Ves”) on Google and made some interesting discoveries. First, last year Roselle inaugurated a beautiful new athletic field named Sylvester Land Field. It’s locatedon Columbus Avenue includes night lights, new turf, goalposts, a baseball field and a concession stand that will allow Pop Warner football and other Roselle leagues to host games at the field. I hope Sargent Land can see the field and the kids playing all sorts of sports. “Ves” was a fearless member of the Rams football team.

Secondly,  I found some remarkable writing by Jessie Land, Sylvester’s younger brother.  Jessie was a classmate of my brother Fred Cole (ACHS, Class of 1964). While Sylvester, who enlisted in the Marines, firmly believed in the war, Jessie was adamantly opposed to it.  My own view was like Jessie’s. As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, I was an active protester against the war. (See earlier post). In this passage published in Veterans … Jessie’s love and respect for Sylvester yet his opposition to the war come through strongly:

“Sylvester and I discussed Vietnam before he left.  My argument was that the United States was acting like an Imperialist Power taking over for a colonialist power, the French interfering with, and controlling, a third world nation. Sylvester truly believed he was going over to Vietnam to save the free world from communist expansion.  Sylvester was in the st Division, 9th Marines (The Walking Dead) who were given the job of guarding the air bases in the far north of Vietnam near the DMZ; a tough task in a limited war with a very high casualty rate.”

Jessie Land (May 1999).

Jessie’s Poem: We’ve republished Jessie’s poem Innocence, dedicated to his brother Sylvester. You can read it here. 

Visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall: I My brother Fred also visited another ACHS alumni who died in the War, Paul La Tourette (Class of ’64). Paul was a Sargent in the Army. Fred describes his visit to the wall and finding the names of Ves and Paul as “searing.”

I also went to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall and found Sylvester’s name. I followed a tradition and traced his name, by rubbing a pencil on paper over his inscribed name. I would rather see him at our 50th Reunion.

Please add a comment to share stories Sylvester or other vets; and please pass this along to  members of the Land family if you know how to contact them.


Pictures from Sylvester Land Field

Soccer players at the new Sylvester Land Field

Having a great time
13 Comments leave one →
  1. buz whelan permalink
    June 1, 2011 7:35 pm

    I flew combat assault for the 1st Air Cav in VietNam. I learned when I got home that it was statistically the most dangerous job in that war. But I came home. Sly gave his all. I am humbled by his sacrifice. God bless, you, Sylvester Land. May you live in glory. May you rest in peace.

    • Angela Land permalink
      August 22, 2012 1:17 am

      Thanks All, Sylvester Land was my uncle. My father was James Land. My uncle George died of TB. I didn’t know them well as I was born in 1965. I feel as though I knew them well because they were always a part of my life. My Uncle Jesse died in 09 and this weekend the last Land that I know (Mabel) will be buried.

  2. chuck hampton permalink
    May 31, 2011 1:50 pm

    Henry and Charlie, I was told some years back that one of the older Lands (presumably George) had converted to Islam and taken a new name, hence, he may be difficult to trace.

  3. Tim Kempson permalink
    May 31, 2011 11:28 am

    “When will we ever learn…?”

  4. Tim Kempson permalink
    May 31, 2011 11:25 am

    Sylvester was indeed fearless on the football field. We were both ends coached by Harrison Morson, and were better men for it. As I recall his brother, George, was the strong quiet type while Sylvester was the entertainer in the locker room. I can’t help remembering Ves clearing the field of some poor soul signaling a “fair catch” and the ball bouncing in the spot of impact. Coach flipped out!

  5. May 30, 2011 10:49 pm

    I couldn’t honor Sylvester Land more. What a wonderful person. I was lucky to go to ACHS
    with him. May God Bless you and your Family. You are so missed. May God carry you with
    him forever. So sincerely, Josephine

  6. Roseanne Denchy permalink
    May 30, 2011 8:46 pm

    I remember Sylvester and his wonderful sense of humor. Thank God for the brave, dedicated men like Sylvester and their service to our nation.

  7. Joyce Hreha Stringer permalink
    May 30, 2011 6:58 pm

    Brings tears to my eyes and heart. Memorial Day was first observed for the dead of the Civil War….what a country…United States citizens fought and killed each other to preserve or dissolve SLAVERY ( or should I say Free Labor for the plantation owners) and how many more wars do we as a country have to fight for the WRON G REASONS….the BEAT GOES ON…lost lives of young men and women.

  8. Anne Raimondo Boardley permalink
    May 30, 2011 6:23 pm

    Wonderful story, Hank, I think it’s great and all us should be thankful for Sylvester and others who have gone before us to protect our great USA!

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      May 30, 2011 6:39 pm

      Roseanne and Joyce, Thanks for your comments. I hope that our government will take every action to give returning veterans the care they and their families need. I’ve heard some pretty bad stories such as the homes of service members being foreclosed. Hank

  9. Charlie Grob permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:00 pm

    Pardon my ignorance or failing memory, but I have thoght for many years, that we had lost both Land brothers (Sylvester & George) to the Vietnam Madness. Please reseach and respomd. Thanks!

    • Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
      May 30, 2011 5:03 pm

      Charlie, I have checked out several veterans’ databases. Sylvester is the only Land listed as having been killed in Vietnam from the state of New Jersey. Nation-wide there are several Lands listed, but none with the name George.

      If anyone has further information; please send it along.

      Everyone, you can do a Wall search at Vietnam Veterans Wall Memorial.


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