New Jersey commemorates Veterans Day with ceremony at Vietnam Memorial

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New Jersey officials honored those who gave their lives in service to the country with a Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Holmdel.

State dignitaries and the families of the veterans attended the ceremony Monday morning.

“So long as there is conflict in this world, the men and women of the United States military will bravely answer the call to protect democracy,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in his speech.

The memorial in Holmdel contains the names of the 1,500 New Jersey residents who were killed during the war in Vietnam. The memorial contains 300 panels with the names – including the name of Jedh Barker, a Marine from Park Ridge. Barker was killed in combat on Sept. 21, 1967.

“For a while it was horrible. I can bring it back anytime, you know. The tears can come, but I put it all away,” says Barker’s brother John, who himself served in the U.S. Army.

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John says that his brother and his brother’s unit were on a reconnaissance operation when they were hit by sniper fire. Despite being wounded, Jedh Barker returned fire until an enemy grenade landed near him. He jumped on the grenade, saving his comrades and sacrificing himself.

“Sometimes bravery does involve laying down your life for something bigger than yourself. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you've ever known and everyone you've ever loved for the sake of something greater. And that was my brother Jedh,” says Susan Barker.

Lance Cpl. Jedh Barker was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“He was living in the moment, all kinds of people knew him and he was a shooting star,” says John Barker.

A special exhibit at the museum on site honors Barker and the eight Vietnam-era Medal of Honor winners from New Jersey.

“Memorial Day is for people who are no longer with us. Veterans Day is where you see the veterans here. They're still alive, they're still, you can still say thank you,” says New Jersey Adjutant Gen. Jemal Beale

The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is located off Exit 116 on the Garden State Parkway.

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