Meet Alex Saldana, A NJ Local Honoring the Community Through Music

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Taps is undoubtedly one of the most patriotic ways to pay tribute to a fallen service member. This melancholy tune is a symbol of respect and honor to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. During the height of the global pandemic, Alex Saldana, a Boy Scout from Troop 36 in Oradell, found his way of acknowledging those at the New Jersey Veteran’s Home of Paramus who had lost their lives to COVID-19 as the virus spread like wildfire. Hoboken Girl sat down with Alex to learn more about his intentions and how he is serving the community around him while paying tribute to those who have selflessly served our country.

About Alex

Alex is a rising freshman at River Dell High School but began as a Cub Scout in 1st Grade. He enjoyed working with the other members of his troop and stuck with it, continuing as he crossed over into Boy Scouts with his pack. 

“It’s so important to me. I have met so many new friends and learned so many new things,” he shared.“When you go through the ranks, you learn a lot about citizenship, being a good person, first aid — things you’d never learn anywhere else.” In addition to his service as a Boy Scout, Alex is an avid cross country runner and enjoys surfing and spending time at the beach. 

His Involvement with the Veteran’s Home

He initially became involved with the Veteran’s home in 6th Grade while he completed his Give Back Service Project. “In 6th Grade, we got to spend time there. We played bingo, talked with them, and learned their stories. It was a great experience,” shared Saldana. 

His father, Dave, is also a Veteran, and proudly served in Operation Restore Hope. Alex also comes from a long line of family members who have served our country. Alex decided to get more deeply involved in the Veteran’s Home as he started his service project to become an Eagle Scout. His hope was to give back to the heroes who have given so much to us. And while this has been a trying time for his Troop, the Scouts have made it a priority to continue to meet over Zoom. Alex looked at it as a time to stay positive and continue to move and look forward.

Read more: Memorials to Pay Tribute Locally

Sharing His Music During COVID

Back in early April, Alex heard through his father that the same Veteran’s Home that he was completing his service project with had fallen victim to COIVD-19, losing 37 precious lives as of April 7th. Alex was distraught to hear this but did the one thing he could think of to properly honor those Veterans who had lost their lives and the families that mourned them. Dressed in uniform, Alex, who is bugler for his troop, went to the Veteran’s Home and played Taps out of respect. 

“It was just the right thing to do,” Alex said. He went there to play Taps, not knowing that his gestures were being captured by local news sources. But for Alex, it wasn’t about the fame or the attention he was receiving after the videos went viral; it was about those who had lost their lives and giving their families some much-needed comfort. 

The thing is, this specific veteran’s home was battling a crisis at the time of Alex’s first performance and had employed The National Guard to help navigate the situation brewing. Alex’s mom, Melissa, was so proud of her son for doing what he could to bring joy to those residents. She posted a video on Facebook and the overwhelming comments of gratitude poured in. “So many people reached out to us saying that they had a family member inside and they really appreciated Alex playing for them,” Melissa tearfully shared. She also received a message from a friend whose father was living in the home and unfortunately passed due to the virus. “She reached out and told me that her father had heard Alex playing Taps the evening before he passed. It was really overwhelming for me as a mom to see that heartfelt message.” Knowing that her son had touched someone’s life in their last moments on earth is humbling, to say the least. 

Humble is the perfect word to describe this 13-year-old hero. Although many have witnessed first-hand the bright light that he has shed on his community and those around him, it is hard for anyone to truly comprehend the impact of his actions. But Alex continues to serve his community and the Veterans who have made such a mark in history. “Since they’ve been on shut down, many family members can’t get there. I am so happy to be able to do it for them. Who knows if I would even be here today without these heroes. I’m just happy to respect them and bring them hope,” Alex proudly shared.

The community has been so supportive of Alex and his service to the Vets. On Memorial Day, The Bergen County American Legion stood beside Alex as he played Taps while those Veterans proudly donned their uniforms. Congressman Bill Prescott Jr. was also in attendance and presented Alex with an award of recognition. One time, as Alex was playing Taps, he was facing away from the home so the flag could wave behind him. While playing, he turned around to find the entire time Task Force of New Jersey standing at attention. “I was so surprised. I didn’t expect that,” he shared.. “They gave me a patch and everything.” Many other notable figures have acknowledged Alex’s efforts such as Congressman Josh Gotteheimer and Hometown Heroes, who also honored Alex for his service.

See more: Latest Hoboken + Jersey City COVID-19 Updates

Moving Forward

As he continues to forge forward with his Eagle Scout project, in which he will keep collecting donations for those who live in the Veteran’s Home {socks, t-shirts, sweat pants, and other necessary items}, Alex knows the community will stand behind him and do their part, too. His main goal is to serve, honor, and respect our nation’s heroes. His family has been supportive of his actions from the very beginning. “My dad is so proud of me. He is a veteran so it means a lot to him that I am paying respect to these vets. My mom has been so supportive and has helped spread the message through social media.” 

As for his younger brother and sister, they both look up to Alex for all that he has done. His brother Nicky comes dressed in his scout uniform each time and under Alex’s leadership has continued to pursue his interest in Boy Scouts. His little sister Natalie has been supportive of him too, coming by each night to watch him play. Alex is just grateful that he was able to do something so meaningful for the veterans who selflessly served the country. He has been a bright light during a dark time for all of us.

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Hoboken homeowner and lover of all things local, Danielle made her home in the Mile Square City nearly six years ago. Danielle is a second grade teacher by day; after hours, she can be found in the kitchen whipping up a a new recipe or grabbing a bite to eat with her husband and friends. Danielle is the try-er and buyer of all things beauty and loves finding a good deal. Shopping on Washington, interior decorating, and riding her Peloton are just a few of Danielle's favorite things. Oh, and did we mention her undying love for the New York Yankees?


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