Vietnam Memorial Wall coming to Carteret this week
CARTERET —Thousands of visitors are expected in this Middlesex County borough for the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall — a four-day exhibit run by the American Veterans Traveling Tribute. The exhibit opens Thursday.
Mo Cheema, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard and Carteret's public information officer, said the idea of bringing the wall to his town has been in development for about five years.
"Carteret has a long history of veterans. We have generations of veterans that have served in foreign wars," Cheema said, adding that the names of fallen veterans who hailed from the borough will be among those read during one of the weekend's ceremonies.
Festivities kick off Wednesday, with an honor escort ride featuring several veterans' groups bringing the wall into Carteret Park. Opening ceremonies are Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and the exhibit — an 80 percent replica of the original wall in Washington, D.C. — will stay open to the public 24/7, free of charge, through 3 p.m. Sunday.
An information booth will be kept open for visitors to ask any questions, including where on the wall to find loved ones. Cheema said an ADA-accessible path will run in front of the wall, and bus service will originate from the Carteret Library on Cooke Avenue and VFW Post 2314 on Pershing Avenue.
"Friday, we'll have field trips that are already scheduled for high school, middle school, elementary school students," Cheema said. Students will be encouraged to wear red, as an acronym for "remembering everyone deployed," and Vietnam veterans will join the kids on-site to speak to them.
The main event of the weekend comes Saturday, with a remembrance ceremony starting at 3 p.m. and leading into a candlelight vigil at night. Carteret officials are expecting a peak number of 3,000 people at one time, but a total number much higher than that over the weekend.
Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email email@example.com.