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NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation Mission Statement The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial strives to encourage and foster patriotism and provide for recognition of the sacrifices, courage and valor of the New Jersey veterans of the Vietnam Era. The Vietnam Era Educational Center strives to encourage and foster a thorough understanding of the Vietnam Era including the political, historical, social, cultural and military aspects which affected the United States, and especially New Jersey.
SUMMARY HISTORY OF
THE NEW JERSEY VIETNAM VETERANS' MEMORIAL FOUNDATION
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation [NJVVMF] was founded in 1987 as a private, nonprofit organization to encourage and foster a thorough understanding of the Vietnam Era including the historical, social, and cultural aspects that affected the United States, and especially New Jersey, while fostering patriotism and providing for recognition of the sacrifices, courage and valor of New Jersey veterans of the Vietnam Era. NJVVMF was to be the fundraising arm of a statewide effort to build the NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
On January l2, 1986, Governor Thomas Kean signed the bill creating the 14 member NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Committee within the Department of State. Senator O'Connor, the first Vietnam Veteran elected to the state senate, was selected to serve as chairman. The committee's charge was threefold: select a site, select a design and raise the funds to complete the construction. During this time, the NJVVMF was created and incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey. The memorial committee continued in an oversight capacity, but relied on the foundation's trustees, executive director, and volunteers to pursue the day-to-day needs of the individual elements of the creation of the NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. Plans would later be put in motion to build the companion project, Vietnam Era Educational Center.The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial is an open-air structure made up of 366 polished black granite panels - one for each day of the year. Engraved on each of these panels are the names of the 1,560 New Jerseyans killed or reported missing on that date. Hien Nguyen, who fled war-torn South Vietnam in 1975, designed the Memorial. At the center a red oak, the official state tree, shades a grouping of three bronze statues sculpted by artist Thomas Jay Warren. The oversized statues represent the men who died, those who came home and the women who served beside them. The Memorial was dedicated on May 7, 1995. The Vietnam Era Educational Center, dedicated in 1998, is the first educational center in the country devoted solely to gaining an understanding of the war in Southeast Asia and the political strife in America. It enables visitors to attain a greater understanding of the myriad of forces that produced the conflict abroad and the dissension at home. It provides both learning materials and exhibits to help visitors understand the significance of the Memorial, the reality of the conflict, and the social, political and cultural complexities of the war years. Guided tours are provided to school groups and other groups, all led by Vietnam Veteran volunteers. It is within these two facilities that the NJVVMF strives to reach the residents of New Jersey and beyond to help them learn about sacrifices of the brave men and women from New Jersey who served during the Vietnam Era. In addition, it highlights the lessons that can be learned from the events and actions we experienced during this period of history. A full calendar of lectures, film presentations and teacher programs offer an opportunity to learn more about this unique time in our nation's history.