Memorial Day: Remembering Sylvester Land
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