On Saturday-21-April, one day after the opening, the Lt. William C. Ryan (USMC) Bridge was rededicated as a Landmark and Historical place. Families, Friends, Former classmate, Vietnam Veterans, and Elected Officials gathered in Olsen Park in Bogota to remember the former Bogota resident who paid the ultimate price for serving his Country. 49 years after his F-4 Phantom was shot over Laos, and three days shy of 75 Birthday. Lt. Ryan was once again honoured with the structure that bears his name. Bogota Councilwoman Daniele Fede hosted the ceremony over looking the new Bridge.
The Program started with the Bergen County Police Dept. Bagpipe band playing " Amazing Grace" then they played the Marine Corp hymn as they marched across the Ryan Bridge. Pastor Rachel Zarnke of Trinity Lutheran Church in Bogota, and an Chaplain in the NJ National Guard gave the opening prayer. This was followed by the Bogota Marching Buccaneer band playing the National Anthem and " God Bless America" County Executive Jim Tedesco lead the attendances in the flag salute. Then Mr. Tedesco, in his speech, would present the Ryan Family the a proclamation to the Ryan Family. He also presented them with a replica of the new bridge sign for the Lt. William Ryan Bridge. Next was Tom Sullivan, Chairperson of the Bergen County Board of Freeholders, to present the Ryan Family a proclamation from the Board of Freeholders.
Councilwoman Fede presented a Flag flown over the United States Capital Building in honour of Lt. Ryan. This was from Congressman Josh Gottheimer who was unable to attend due to his honoring a solider form the American Revolution. Councilwoman Fede also presented proclamations from NJ State Senator Loretta Wienberg, and NJ Assembly members Valerie Huttle and Gordon Johnson. Next to speak was Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino. He was followed Bogota Mayor Chris Kelemen who presented a proclamation from the Bogota Council, and declared Saturday-21-April as Lt. William Ryan day. Mayor John LaBrosse from Hackensack spoke on how once again the two towns as well as all of Bergen County and New Jersey are joined together in remembering Lt. Ryan.
Bogota VFW Post #5561 Commander Alexander Hernandez talked of the influence this one Marine had on the area. He first asked for the members of the Ryan Family raise their hand. Then any classmate from either St. Joseph's in Bogota, or St. Cecelia of Englewood join in. Next came anyone who attend St. Francis College of Pennsylvania also raise their hand, along with former teammates. This was followed by any members of Lt Ryan's Squadron, any Vietnam Veterans, any former members of the Marine Corp. and any former, or active duty military personal also raise their hand. Commander Hernandez said how one person could affect so many lives, and how many more people will be influence by a chance use the bridge that is named after the Lieutenant and have the freedom travel as they please. Then Jack Quigley of the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club told the Ryan Family would he, and his members were proud to serve as Honor Guard at Lt. Ryan interment at Arlington Cemetery only one year ago. Mr. Quigley said that he, and the other Nam Knight, were grateful could attend another tribute to Lt. Ryan.
Finally William Ryan's son Michael addressed the audience. He thanked everyone who took the time to come out to remember his Father. He thank Councilwoman Fede and Commander Hernandez for organizing this ceremony. Then he talked about his Father, that he never had a chance to grow up with, but would always be with him. Mr. Ryan said he as happy that his son Tyler was wearing his Grand Father flight jacket. He thanked his Aunt Carol, his Uncles Ed and John who would tell stories about their Brother and past Friends of William Ryan to share other memories of his Father. Michael was thankful he was able to inform his Mother that her Husband and long companion was finally able to come home. The emotion feelings of having to first attend his Mother funeral, and then lay his Father to rest. He also said he felt that this needed to happen the way it did so his Parent could now be together once again. This part of the ceremony closed with pastor Jodie Wu from Bogart Church offering a closing prayer.
It was then the turns of the Nam Knights to pay their tribute. With Tyler Ryan in the back of the lead motorcycle the caravan thundered over the Hackensack River. One more tribute was Councilwoman Fede and members of the Ryan Family tossing roses over the walkway railing into the water below.
The guest were invited to relax at the Bogota Recreation Center for desserts and coffee. There the speeches for Lt. Ryan had come to end, and stories about a kid from Bogota began. Tales about what "Rhino" was like to were past among past classmate. The stories from what was it like to grow up with Uncle Billy. Then others from what their house was like and thoughts of what it might have been like to live in New Jersey. A yearbook from 1962 appeared. More stories were told, a Son saw and heard about his father in a new light with smiles and laughter. Then an impromptu class reunion photo took place with Michael Ryan and Ed Ryan standing in for a kid from New Jersey who had bravely served his country.
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