Nearly three years after their son died, Toms River residents Susan and James Harvey say that not much has changed.
"It's like it was yesterday," Susan James said.
One day in June 2011, the couple learned that their son, James, had died while fighting in Afghanistan, just days after they received his sergeant stripes in the mail for his upcoming promotion.
Toms River paid tribute Friday afternoon to U.S. Army Sgt. James Harvey II, who died in Ghazni province while fighting to help protect his fellow soldiers during a fight that involved small arms fire.
"Nothing changes," said James Harvey. "We miss him as much today as we did that day."
In his honor, the township has renamed a portion of Church Road the Sgt. James Harvey II Memorial Highway and placed a sign in his honor along the roadway, in front of the Toms River American Legion Post 129, of which the elder James Harvey is now a member.
The Harveys have had a tough few years. Their home in the township's Green Island section was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, and they continue to miss their son every day. But between their friends at the Legion and other in the Toms River community, they've found support.
James Harvey II was first attracted to the Army, his father said, for the experience and education he would be able to receive. After his first stint was up, he re-enlisted, explaining to his father his inner sense of duty and desire to serve his country.
"I asked him why he wanted to go back, and he just said, 'This is something I have to do,'" Harvey said. "I wasn't trying to stop him, I just wanted to know why he wanted to re-enlist. When he said that, having served myself, I understood."
For James Harvey, the positioning of the sign in front of the Legion hall is perfect.
"The run for the fallen stops here," he said. "So every one of those soldiers are going to see this sign."