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DayTripper: NJ Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
11/19/2007 - By by Gena Ansell-Lande
The Vietnam War affected the life of every New Jersey resident who lived through that turbulent era. The war tore apart our families, communities, and the entire country.The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial pays homage to the lives lost to this awful war. It is an open structure consisting of 366 polished black granite panels with the names of the 1,560 New Jerseyans killed or reported missing. The $4.5 million circular Memorial was dedicated on May 7, 1995, with the help of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and General Norman Schwarzkopf. There were more than 15,000 people in attendance.
Hien Nguyen, who fled war-torn South Vietnam in 1975 and who now lives in Monmouth County, designed the Memorial. At its 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 is also the first educational center and museum of its kind in the United States. Dedicated in September 1998, the $3.5 million educational center is devoted solely to gaining an understanding of the violent conflict in Southeast Asia and the surrounding political strife in America. The Center is not simply a physical structure, but a concept with two major objectives. First, it enables all visitors to gain a greater understanding of the myriad of forces that produced the conflict abroad and the dissension at home. Second, it provides appropriate materials and exhibits to help visitors understand the significance of the Memorial, the reality of the conflict, and the social complexities of the war years.
The largest space in the facility is the exhibition area, which includes an historic timeline. Flowing across the walls of the 5,000-square-foot space is a chronology of the war that presents the historical recollection of the events of the era. Shown in two concurrent timelines — one reflecting the activity in Vietnam, the other reflecting the activity in the U.S. — it allows visitors to gain a full perspective of the political and cultural elements in play during this time. Interspersed along this timeline are touch screens that provide an interactive glance at historical events, as well as personal photographs submitted by Vietnam veterans and their families.
Eyewitness accounts mirror the historical events of the time and serve as a secondary timeline, presenting some of the major events that were taking place. Whether it be in the jungles of Southeast Asia or on the campuses of American universities, these personal accounts help make the connection between the facts of war and their effects on people's lives.
The Oral History Theater presents the histories of people who lived through this era and can bring the story even closer to the visitors. This vast array of memories helps bring a personal voice to the many faces of the war. From a mother who lost a son, to a war protester, to a three-tour veteran, these individuals represent the millions of people whose lives were forever changed by the Vietnam War. The Theater helps to bring the cold facts into the proper perspective.
The flexible design of the Multi-Purpose Room seats 30 to 40 people. It provides the ideal space for lectures, meetings and teleconferencing. It is also appropriate for viewing movies and intimate theatrical productions. A small library of books, videos, CD-ROMs, and other reference materials can be found in the resource center. Here visitors can research the Vietnam Era and are directed to appropriate subject related materials and the local, state or national facilities from which these items can be borrowed or obtained.
The Memorial allows us and future generations to remember and honor more than 1,500 New Jersey men and women who lost their lives or remain missing in action in Southeast Asia. It also publicly recognizes more than 80,000 New Jerseyans whose heroism and courage was unjustly ignored when they returned home. The creation, planning and construction of the entire project is the responsibility of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Commission. Founded in 1986 as a public/private collaborative, the Commission established the nonprofit New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation to raise needed funds.
VIETNAM ERA EDUCATIONAL CENTER HOSTS VETERAN ART EXHIBIT
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation, in cooperation with the Brooklyn VA, will host a veteran art exhibit entitled Visions of Veterans. The exhibit will run from Tuesday, December 2, 2008 through February 15, 2009, in the lobby of the Vietnam Era Educational Center in Holmdel, NJ.
The art series, Visions of Veterans, is a visual attempt to explore how individuals feel about their experiences as Veterans. These works were created by patients at the Veterans Administration's New York Harbor Healthcare System Day Hospital Program, which is an intensive psychosocial rehabilitative program that serves as an alternative to hospitalization. The veterans are those of both war and peacetime. Many of the artist's will be on hand for the opening of the exhibit on Tuesday, December 2, between 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
New Jersey Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Vietnam Era Educational Center
Exit 116, Garden State Parkway
(on the Grounds of the PNC Bank Arts Center)
Adults - $4
Senior Citizens and Students - $2
Children 10 and under are free
Veterans of military service and active military personnel are admitted free of charge.
Guided tours are available and group visits are welcome.
For more information, call 1-800-648-VETS.
From South Jersey via NJ Turnpike
Take New Jersey Turnpike North (Route 95) to Exit 7A (Route 195). Take Route 195 East approximately 30 miles until Route 195 ends. You will see signs for the Garden State Parkway North. Take Garden State Parkway North to Exit 116 (PNC Bank Arts Center). As you enter the Arts Center grounds, stay to the right and follow the brown directional signs to the Memorial and Educational Center. Make a right turn onto Memorial Lane and make 2nd left into the Educational Center parking lot.
From North Jersey via NJ Turnpike
Take the New Jersey Turnpike South to Exit 11 (Garden State Parkway). Take the Garden State Parkway South approximately 16 miles to Exit 116 (PNC Bank Arts Center). As you enter the Arts Center grounds, stay to the right and follow the brown directional signs to the Memorial and Educational Center. Make a right turn onto Memorial Lane and make 2nd left into the Ed Center parking lot.
From North or South Jersey via Garden State Parkway
Exit Parkway at 116 and proceed toward the Arts Center. As you enter the Arts Center grounds, stay to the right and follow the brown directional signs to the Memorial and Educational Center. Make a right turn onto Memorial Lane and make 2nd left into the Ed Center parking lot.
For all other information regarding parking, special events or the gift shop please visit their website at www.njvvmf.org.
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