HACKENSACK, N.J. — The daughter and son of a deceased World War II veteran and German POW accepted honors on their father’s behalf Friday at this year’s POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony in Hackensack.
The ceremony drew some 100 veterans, dignitaries, and private citizens to One Bergen County Plaza.
The honoree was Murray Kent Ulrich of Englewood, who died in 1998.
He was a World War II veteran and German POW captured in 1944.
His children, Stefanie Ulrich of Englewood and David Ulrich of New York City, were visibly affected by the honor, presented by Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III.
“This means a lot,” Stefanie Ulrich told Daily Voice. “We’re thrilled to have anybody recognize him.”
She said her father never spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war, except for a couple of amusing anecdotes.
“Now he’s gone,” she added. “My brother and I today were lamenting that it’s too bad that we couldn’t have this day with our father still here because he was invisible for all those years.”
Neither of them thanked their father for his service, she said.
“We didn’t know much,” explained Ulrich, a clinical psychologist who works with veterans.
U.S. Army Private Ulrich was 26 when he entered the military and served from 1944 to 1946.
He was captured by the Germans during the Battle of Vianden in Luxembourg in November 1944.
He remained in captivity for 383 days, according to a World War II POW Archive.
During that time, American POWs were known to endure hunger, disease, beatings, and sudden death.
Ariel Jacob Luna, director of the Bergen County Division of Veterans Affairs and organizer of POW/MIA Recognition Day, said Ulrich worked on a rail project, which he would sabotage on purpose sometimes.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Carl Singer of the U.S. Army, Tedesco, and Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Tracy Silna Zur.
During the presidential campaign, Zur noted, much is heard questioning the heroism of those who are captured in war.
So it is especially important, she said, to remember and say thank you.
“For us here in Bergen County,” Zur said, “we will continue to send the message to each and every one of our veterans that the sacrifice that they have made – some of them, the ultimate sacrifice – is meaningful and important to all of us.”
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