THE TWO HUNDRED CLUB
The year 1968
was one of the most eventful years in the history of the United States of America. It was the year that the War in Viet Nam intensified with the Tet Offensive. It was the year that the Reverend Martin Luther King
was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. It was also the year that Robert Kennedy
was assassinated during his campaign in Los Angeles, California. Society was going through drastic changes. I well remember them because I was then a young police officer. It was also the year that the
Two Hundred Club of Union County, New Jersey was formed. A group of concerned citizens founded the 200 Club
to “ensure that our uniformed protectors and their families are never ignored or forgotten, and to encourage them to do their best”. The 200 Club of Union County
provides financial assistance to families of police and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty. The club also recognizes the heroism of these men and women each year at an Annual Valor Awards Luncheon. Their web site can be visited by clicking on the following link: www.uc200club.org
The current President of the 200 Club of Union
County is John J. Dugan, who is also the Vice President of Investments, UBS Financial Service, Inc, with offices in Westfield, New Jersey. John served as a police officer in the town of
Westfield, New Jersey prior to his career in finance. He has fond memories of his years of service in police work.
John Dugan in white shirt with Emergency Medical Squad at VZ 10-13 meeting
His interest in support for law enforcement found him attending the November, 2004 meeting of the NYC Verrazano 10-13 Association. He and his partner
Lou Sforza attended the meeting and donated a valuable door prize.
I learned a lot more about the 200 Club when John invited me and Harry Morse, the President of the Verrazano 10-13
Association as guest speakers for their monthly luncheon meeting in New Jersey. We met John at his office in Westfield and we then accompanied him to the luncheon. We had the
honor of meeting some very dedicated people from the business community as well as retired police officers and firefighters. The purpose of the invitation was to share our organization
goals and mission with the 200 Club. President Morse gave a talk about how the NYC Verrazano 10-13 Association renders assistance to both active and retired members of the NYPD as well as to their families. When he finished, I was
invited to addess the group.
John Dugan and Harry Morse
When I visited the web site of the 200 Club of Union
County, www.uc200club.org I saw that it has a list of police officers and firefighters that the club has honored since 1968 The 200 Club of Union County recognizes the sacrifice and dedication of the police officers and firefighters in the State of New Jersey. That recognition means much to those who receive the Medal of Valor.
What impressed me
immediately was the motto of the 200 Club: “Because We Care”. Those three
words carry much meaning to me. During the decades of the 60s and 70s, I was unaware of the existence of the 200 Club. It was easy to give a talk to the
200 Club because I felt that they should be recognized for the vital role that they have played in the violent and trouble filled years since 1968. I
spoke about how as a young cop, I had felt alienated by the prevailing “Spirit of the Times”. Most of us in police work can recall the siege mentality of “us against the world”, and the idea of the “thin blue line”. In jest, cops would sometimes say that the motto
“Nobody Cares” should be on the radio cars. I recalled the political and social upheaval of those fateful years. The one crime that reflected the “Spirit of the Times” was the heinous murder of Kitty Genovese on March 13, 1964. I would never
forget how the many witnesses to that crime failed to render any assistance to her as she cried out for help. After repeated attacks, her killer finally cut away her undergarments and sexually assaulted her
lifeless body. The common theme of the witnesses who were interviewed by the press was “I didn’t want to get involved”.
The fear of “getting involved” pervaded the era of the 60s and 70s. That is why I was so impressed with the motto ot the 200 Club of Union County.
As we met with the members during the luncheon, we were delighted to learn that a former member of the New York Jets was dining with us. The year 1968 had some happy moments as well as sad ones. That was the year that Quarterback “Broadway” Joe Namath led the 1968 New York Jets to the AFL Championship. The new AFL League didn’t get the respect of the older and more established NFL.
The following words are courtesy of http://www.conigliofamily.com/TitansJets.htm
Writing of Joe Namath: “His shining moment was his generalship in the Jets' win over the Colts in the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The 1968 NFL Champion Colts
were touted as "the greatest pro football team of all time". NFL icon Norm Van Brocklin ridiculed the AFL, saying "This will be Namath's first professional football game." Writers from NFL cities insisted it would take the AFL several more years of the "common draft" before its teams
could even step on the same field as the untouchable NFL teams.
THEN, THEY PLAYED THE GAME! Namath showed that he had been tempered in the crucible of real pro football in the AFL, as the Colts' "invincible" defense
withered under the onslaught of the Jets running and passing game. Meanwhile, their offense gave up four interceptions to the Jets, including one by "NFL reject" Johnny Sample, off the once-great John Unitas. Namath picked the Colts apart
with a 17 for 28 performance, with eight completions to George Sauer alone, for 133 yards. Namath
was the game's MVP and found a permanent place in the hearts of all AFL fans, by shoving the NFL's taunts down their throats with a "guaranteed" win. He is a member of the All-time All-American Football League Team and the patron saint of underdogs everywhere.
When “Broadway Joe” led
his team to victory in the January 1969 Superbowl, history was made. One of the linemen playing on that team, Jeff Richardson is a
member of the 200 Club. Jeff wore number 74 during his playing years with the Jets.As we reminisced about those years, he proudly showed us his Superbowl
Jeff Richardson, former 1968 NY Jet Lineman
PHOTOS FROM THE 200 CLUB LUNCHEON:
John Dugan with Sgt Dan Geddes, Elizabeth NJ PD (ret), Morse, Reuss
John Dugan, Ed Reuss, Kathy Dawson, Rick Newcomb, Rich Morrissey
Harry Morse and Ed Reuss with Cynthia Cuzzo
Husband Det. John Cuzzo is Westfield PBA Delegate
TO GO TO THE 200 CLUB WEBSITE: GO TO: WWW.UC200CLUB.ORG
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