Hawthorne volunteer firefighter of 71 years, EMT of 50 years honored for decades of service

Jim Dolan Image
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Volunteer firefighter and EMT honored for decades of service
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Members of the Hawthorne Volunteer Fire Department dressed in full uniform to celebrate volunteer firefighter Ken Silvestri and EMT Mark Veenema. Jim Dolan has more.

HAWTHORNE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A huge surprise celebrated two men in New Jersey Wednesday night, a volunteer firefighter who has served for over 70 years and an EMT who has served for 50.

Not much happens at the borough of Hawthorne Council meeting most weeks.

Not many people go to these affairs, but on Wednesday they nearly filled the place.

Members of the Hawthorne Volunteer Fire Department dressed in full uniform and lined the aisles, all for a guy they see almost every day.

Ken Silvestri was honored at the meeting for working 71 years at a job he doesn't get paid for.

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He started volunteering for the fire department when Harry Truman was president. He's 92 now and has great, great grandchildren.

"The fire department was my life," Silvestri said. "I thank you all for being here tonight."

Hawthorne is that kind of place. Mark Veenema has been volunteering as an EMT and paramedic for 50 years.

"Years ago, the EMS service was truly just a transportation. Get them to the hospital fast," Veenema said.

The fire department took pictures Wednesday night, with 92-year-old Silvestri front and center. He still volunteers, and still shows up at fires and helps out, because he knows the fire department is the best.


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