FLEMINGTON, NJ - Two dates on the upcoming months’ calendars will feature respectful patriotic and symbolic ceremonies in Hunterdon County.
The first in-person ceremony will commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead, including 16 residents of Hunterdon County.
The second planned event will be virtual, to be held on Veterans Day - Nov. 11 - as a makeshift event for the annual Hunterdon County Veterans Recognition Medal Ceremony that traditionally kicks off the August County 4H & Agricultural Fair held at the Route 179 fairgrounds, just outside of Lambertville.
This year’s County Fair was scheduled for Aug. 19 through 23, but had to be cancelled, like most of 2020’s public events, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dates for the 2021 County 4H & Agricultural Fair have already been announced as Aug. 25 thorough Aug. 29, 2021.
Freeholder Director Shaun C. Van Doren explained that this year’s Hunterdon County 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony will take place as originally planned, on Friday morning, September 11, in downtown Flemington on the front steps of the Historic Hunterdon County Courthouse. The ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m., noteworthy as the first plane that struck the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan hit at 8:46 a.m. on that day in 2001.
County Sheriff Fred Brown delivered comments about this year’s ceremony to Van Doren, which the freeholder board’s director read aloud during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Sheriff Brown told me that despite the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, in his opinion, commemorating the 9/11 terrorist attack and the lives lost in the United States that day and as a result is too important of an event to be postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, and I could not agree more,” he said. “Precautions will be taken outside to ensure appropriate physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings at and during the ceremony. To quote our Sheriff Brown, ‘Hunterdon County will always remember.’”
Deputy Freeholder Director Susan Soloway supported Brown’s sentiments on the importance of continuing the 9/11 ceremony in Flemington this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic and added precautions.
“It’s so hard to believe 19 years has passed since Sept. 11, 2001, and I commend Sheriff Brown for the decision to hold the annual Remembrance Ceremony in public, on the courthouse steps, despite the pandemic,” she said. “I join our sheriff and Freeholder Director Van Doren in reiterating the importance of remembering those who perished in the terrorist attack on our nation. We must never forget.”
Soloway is also the board’s liaison to the county Department of Human Services and its Division of Senior, Disabilities and Veteran’s Services. She explained the decision-making process for the other marquee ceremony that is being organized, in lieu of the in-person gathering and large crowds that could have appeared at the county Fairgrounds weeks from now to begin the annual fair.
The Virtual Veterans Day Ceremony will be broadcast over the internet for public viewing without the added risk of large crowds, and the tolling of the bells atop the Historic Hunterdon County Courthouse is a significant new commemoration for Hunterdon County, marking the Armistice on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of the year as the end of World War I took place Nov. 11, 1918.
Two special occasions will coincide this Veterans’ Day in downtown Flemington. The medal and recognition ceremony for respected military veterans will start shortly after 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 this year.
“The rescheduled ceremony is appropriately set for Veterans Day Nov. 11,” she said. “Because so many of our medal recipients and other county veterans who have traditionally attended the August ceremony are older individuals, the event had to be postponed due to concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19. Due to those concerns, the medal ceremony is going to take place virtually, over the Internet, with no public in-person attendance. This program is being designed to be most respectful to the veterans being honored.”
For the medal ceremony, letters were sent by the county to all applicants for this year’s program (at the 4-H Fair) to explain the changes that have been made due to COVID-19, and inviting them to participate in the ceremony via the Internet.
And, for the third year in a row, the bells will be tolled 21 times at the Historic Courthouse in Flemington Nov. 11, in honor of all veterans. The 21 times signifies the 21-gun salute “that honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for all nations.”
Soloway thanked her fellow freeholder, John Lanza, who served as liaison to county veterans in 2019 and former freeholder John King, who was county board liaison to veterans for the 2018 100th year commemoration of the Armistice with the bells tolling at the Historic Courthouse.
“I’m very excited about this novel method being proposed to honor our amazing veterans in the county despite the pandemic and restrictions,” she said. “More information will be made available as we get closer to the Nov. 11 date.”