Memorial Trees: Honoring New Jersey’s LegacyJillian Decker
Artist Creates Custom Sculptures of NJVVMF Memorial Tree
By Jillian Decker, Director of Development
Anchoring the black granite wall inscribed with the names of the 1,563 New Jerseyans who gave their lives fighting in the Vietnam War stands a proud red oak. The red oak is the official state tree of New Jersey, symbolizing the state these brave soldiers left and never returned home to.
At this year’s Annual Salute to Patriotism Gala, the red oak anchored the tables of veterans, loved ones, supporters, and NJVVMF staff and trustees who gathered to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the groundbreaking of the Memorial. Director of Development Jillian Decker designed the concept for the centerpieces for the Gala, utilizing the same symbolism Hien Nguyen incorporated into the Memorial design. The sculpted trees would sit atop a ring of reclaimed red oak and carry the logo of the Memorial.
With the aid of Indiana artist Ashley Stout of River Bottom Hill Company, the design came to life: beautiful wire replicas of the Memorial tree across the seasons. Using photos of the Memorial throughout the year, Stout was able to recreate the iconic oak in silver and copper wire with glass bead leaves. NJVVMF Trustee Joe Scerbo of Heavy & General Construction Laborers’ Local 472 volunteered several days work to secure the sculptures to the reclaimed red oak.
The centerpieces were available for purchase through silent bidding at the Salute to Patriotism Gala. Our Annual Gala provides support for the care of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. It also supports the Vietnam Era Museum and its educational programs, outreach, ceremonies, research initiatives and exhibitions. As the only site of its kind in the country, the support of our community ensures that the legacies and lessons of the Vietnam Era will continue to be taught to future generations.
Additional trees are still available for purchase to support the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation. For more information, contact Jillian Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org.