PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - New Jersey service members who have died in support of overseas contingency operations since Sept. 11, 2001, were honored at this year's annual New Jersey Fallen Service Member Tree Memorial Ceremony on Oct. 20.
It marked the fourth ceremony since its inception in 2007 in which no new service members were honored from the previous calendar year, as no New Jersey service members were killed in action in 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017.
The ceremony is part of an annual tradition at Picatinny Arsenal where a red oak tree is planted as a memorial to the individual service member, and a plaque is placed at the base of each tree. The red oak is the official state tree of New Jersey. In total, 174 red oak trees are now planted in the memorial.
Brig. Gen. Alfred F. Abramson, Picatinny Arsenal Commanding General, reminded families and ceremony attendees about the significance of 9/11.
"I know that for all of us here today, and in fact all Americans, September 11, 2001 forever changed our world. September 11 has changed the way we live yesterday, shapes the way we live today, and does and will influence how we will live tomorrow."
As part of honoring all of the fallen New Jersey fallen service members, the ceremony included a reading of all their names, followed by a 21-gun salute, and a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace" and "Taps," musical pieces that are typically played at military ceremonies to honor fallen service members.
"To the families, no words, no ceremonies, no plaques, no trees, or amount of tears will ever replace your loss. But what we can do is pay our respects and honor those that have given so much for so many," Abramson said.
After the ceremony ended, families and loved ones were transported to the location where the trees are planted in honor of their fallen service members.