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. 23.
Officials here unveiled the memorial in 2008, dedicating 119 red oaks to war fighters who had lost their lives through 2007. The ceremony is part of an annual tradition here 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 all, 174 red oak trees are now planted in the memorial.
“Today as a community, we come out together, and we solemnly honor the memory of our lost Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Guardsman,” Picatinny Arsenal commanding general, Brig. Gen. William M. Boruff said as he addressed families in attendance. “We grieve with you, the families who endure the remarkable courage, strength, and grace to come out and remember them with us. Each one of you have provided your loved ones with the strength necessary to serve during challenging times. We thank you for your service and dedication to the nation.”
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 which are typically played at military ceremonies to honor fallen service members.
After the ceremony ended, families and loved ones were transported to the area where the trees planted in honor of their fallen service members are located.