For the second year in a row, The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation is holding the state's official Veterans' Day ceremony. But this year, due to COVID-19, things will be different.

The foundation's director of development, Jillian Decker, said the ceremony, which is normally live and in-person, will be held virtually starting at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11. It will be broadcasted on NJVVMF's Facebook page and YouTube channel. Speakers include  Gov. Phil Murphy, state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, Interim Adjutant General Dr. Lisa Hou and others.

Decker said the memorial will be open on Veterans' Day with safety measures in place and masks required for all visitors. But the Vietnam Era Museum remains closed.

Decker said it is important to honor veterans because they have given so much to our country. Even during this pandemic, there are so many vets on the front lines of it right now, she added. Vietnam vets are completely committed to making sure that all veterans are honored. Decker said many Vietnam veterans did not get a warm welcome home when they came back because it was such an unpopular war. So, these vets have dedicated their lives to making sure that this never happens again to another returning soldier.

Veterans Day Ceremony at NJVVMF.
Photo Credit: Ira Fox

A large component of the annual ceremony is the wreaths processional showing remembrance of fallen heroes, stewardship within the community and engagement with local veterans' organizations. Several community organizations normally lay wreaths at the memorial during the live ceremony.

But since it's not safe to do that during the pandemic, the public is being invited to donate a virtual wreath, a rose or a ribbon for the ceremony. Decker said a wreath costs $25, a rose is $10 and a ribbon is $5. Select the color of your choice and leave up to two lines of text to customize it. The donor's name and message will be shown during the virtual ceremony acknowledging their contribution and support to the foundation.

More information on the ceremony can be found at www.njvvmf.org/veterans-day-virtual-ceremony/