By Jillian Decker, Director of Development
As a private nonprofit, the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation relies on the generosity of our community to do our great work to honor our Veterans and to teach the next generations about the meaning of patriotism through their experiences and sacrifice. This spirit of generosity is embodied by our donors, patrons, granting organizations, and our Trustees.
A shining example of this spirit of giving was John Antonellis, a Trustee who joined the NJVVMF in 2017 after a long history of volunteering. John was incredibly passionate about the work of the Foundation and took a special interest in our education and outreach programs. A former Municipal Bond Trader, John felt compelled to serve his country and left corporate America to enlist in the U.S. Army attached to the 11th Special Forces as an intelligence analyst. During retirement, John enjoyed giving his time serving as a Trustee for the NJVVMF. He is remembered fondly by former Trustee Roy Budd: “He had a quiet presence that could light up a room and because of his thoughtfulness and insight we always sought his counsel.”
Our community was rocked by the loss of John in July of this past year. “John will be remembered always by us as one of the kindest and most caring men we have had the privilege to meet and befriend. I miss him already and am thankful for his and Amy’s generosity towards the foundation and for his leadership as a Trustee,” reflects Trustee Bill Linderman.
John’s generosity knew no bounds, and his family encouraged donations to be made in his memory to the Foundation after his passing. In consultation with his wife, Amy, these contributions were directed towards strengthening our educational programming by installing display cases throughout the Vietnam Era Museum to better incorporate our artifacts with the history of the Era illustrated in the Museum’s panorama. These cases also help to preserve these priceless artifacts to be shared with generations to come.
The Museum houses important items from the Vietnam Era, including letters written by soldiers and their families, photographs, military decorations, and many more artifacts that help us share the stories, memories, and legacies of these brave men and women with our visitors. These materials and exhibitions help our community understand the significance of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the reality of the conflict, and the social, political and cultural complexities of the Vietnam Era.
The museum cases will be a warm reminder not only of John’s passion for our Mission and the educational programs we offer, but of how acts of generosity can go a long way in having an impact on our organization. Through the generosity of others, the Foundation is better able to preserve our history in the letters, keepsakes, and mementos left at the Memorial and to the Vietnam Era Museum.
Generosity comes in many shapes and sizes, and there are many ways to support our Mission; a legacy such as John’s is just one example of the possibilities. Adopting a panel at the Memorial through our Remembrance Program also advances our efforts to honor, to remember, and to heal.
We invite you to join us in supporting the Foundation and our Mission to offer a meaningful and engaging experience recognizing the sacrifices, courage, and valor of Vietnam Veterans. For every $1,000 benchmark in the Remembrance Program, one of the 366 black granite panels of the New Jersey Vietnam Memorial will be adopted for the coming year. All donations will receive the photo and biography of an individual honored on our Memorial to recognize their contribution to the Remembrance Program; full panel sponsors will receive the biographies of all individuals honored on their panel. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have 34 panels already adopted for 2020. With your support, our community can come together to adopt the remaining eleven months of panels over the next year.
We look forward to welcoming you through our doors in 2020 and connecting generations to come with the Vietnam Era and with stories of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country.
For more information about our Remembrance Program, please visit our website here or contact Jillian Decker, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732.335.0033 x110. To make a donation, please follow the link to our donation page.