An enthusiast’s view of America’s Original Seaside Resort… by Meghan Kunz
There’s a picture of me, when I was about five years old, standing on Sunset Beach. I’m facing the horizon, wearing these ultra-stylish pink and white checkered shorts. I’m squinting into the distance, probably mesmerized by the huge ship sticking out of the water, thinking to myself, “They’re NEVER getting me on a boat now.” It’s funny how this memory stayed with me — one picture, one moment captured, and I know how Sunset Beach felt that day. It was my Jersey paradise, where I’d watch the gorgeous colors strewn through the sky, and listen to the flag flapping against the ocean breeze, and stare out into the ocean, thinking about how small I was compared to that vast world out there.
My father called on Sunday morning to tell me about a feature written by Mark Di Ionno on the front page of the Sunday Star-Ledger (Union Edition). It was the last segment in a series documenting the various people and cultures of the Jersey Shore, and it appropriately ended with Cape May. However, the focus was not on the usual Victorian bed-and-breakfast discussion,or stellar restaurant reviews. Instead, this piece focused on an individual who has become well-known through his nightly ritual of honoring deceased veterans and celebrating America — Marvin Hume.
Most people visiting Cape May know about Sunset Beach and make it a point to stop there for the flag ceremony at sundown. No matter what time of year, no matter how many times I’ve witnessed it, it always stirs up a swelling of emotion, as I feel a combination of sadness, pride, patriotism and a connection with everyone standing on that beach. As Di Ionno’s article mentions, every flag (more than 6,000 since 1973) has been donated by a deceased veteran’s family member. In this way, the veterans who gave their lives for our freedom are honored in this breathtaking setting, on a small intimate beach on the Jersey Shore. Ever ceremony I’ve attended has always felt extraordinarily special, and I’ve felt privileged that the veterans’ families choose to share this moment.
I had an encounter with Mr Hume, without knowing who he was specifically, and of course (knowing me) it involved animals. I started interacting with the Sunset Beach cats (as my mother and I called them) — or as Mr Hume called them, Speckles and Spats. Mr Hume could not say enough about those cats — you could tell how much he cared for them. My impression of him is of pure kindness.
Thank you, Marvin Hume, for the tradition and for all the memories you have given to us.