HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Former Somerset County Freeholder and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, an announced candidate for governor in New Jersey's 2021 elections, reflects on the state of the state and the true meaning of the Memorial Day observance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in an open letter to New Jersey.

A resident of Hillsborough who spent his childhood in Raritan, Ciattarelli announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination earlier this year at the Eisenhower Elementary School in Raritan, where he attended school.

Unable to run a traditional hand-shaking, personal appearance campaign because of social distancing and crowd restrictions imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders, Ciattarelli has turned to social media to conduct a vigorous campaign critical of Murphy's policies.

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The following is Ciattarelli's message:

Friends,

"The Memorial Day holiday and weekend is the official start of our Jersey Shore summer. And yet, this year, nothing feels at all normal or right for obvious reasons.  

"More than 10,000 of our fellow New Jerseyans have died in the pandemic. Countless others living in New Jersey nursing and veterans’ homes have been needlessly and recklessly endangered. Far too many are struggling with unemployment and the delay in receiving benefits.

"Small businesses face frustrating limitations or total closure. Beaches and boardwalks lack their familiar and authentically Jersey feel.

"All of us, in one way or another, are affected by these painful circumstances. We must, however, persevere. We must find the strength to once again embrace and seek inspiration in the true meaning of Memorial Day. For the holiday is not a celebration, but a national commemoration – a solemn remembrance of the 1+ million American soldiers who, throughout our nation’s history, made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and our way of life.

"These selfless and brave Americans gave their life to provide future generations a brighter, more secure future for this country and the world. We are forever indebted to them. And so, we rededicate ourselves this Memorial Day to the principles and ideals for which they sacrificed.

"Finally, let us take comfort in knowing that we as a country have always emerged from conflict and adversity better, stronger, and more free. We have always risen to the occasion. Always fixed what is broken. Always adapted, worked hard, rebuilt and preserved our future. We will again. We must. It is the best and only way to say “Thank You” to all those for whom there is Memorial Day. 

"Stay safe. Stay well. Stay strong." 

Ciattarelli's statewide campaign office is located in Somerville.