Mayor Robert D. Parisi announced today that the eligibility of twelve West Orange veterans has been confirmed for presentation of the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal, which will occur during its Memorial Day ceremony. The annual event will be held beginning 10:00 AM, Monday, May 30, 2011, on the front steps of Township Hall.

Conceived prior to the first ceremony of its kind in 1999, the initiative has recognized local combat veteran through presentation of the decoration, who comprise the largest such contingent in any New Jersey municipality.  As a result, the Township lays claim to the title of “New Jersey’s Most Decorated Community.” With this year’s awards, 330 West Orange veterans will hold the award, the state’s highest honor for military service.

To qualify, a veteran must be a current New Jersey resident who entered the armed forces as a resident of this State (or a 20 year resident in the aggregate), he or she must have served during a time of war or national emergency in a combat theater of operations and must have been honorably discharged.  In addition, veterans holding certain high level decorations equal to or exceeding the Purple Heart, are eligible for receipt of the award with the addition of an oak leaf cluster.  Discharge papers and/or other proof of military service must be submitted and the medal can be awarded posthumously.  Applications are available, on-line, at www.westorange.org, or at the Mayor’s Office.  For additional information, or to obtain an application by mail, please call 973-325-4100.

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With a nod to this being the 150thAnniversary of the start of the Civil War, re-enactors from the 7thNew Jersey Volunteers, in full period uniform, will participate by providing a Color Guard and joining in the traditional Rifle Salute.  Vocal and instrumental musical selections will be provided by students from West Orange High School’s award winning music program.

“This is always a proud day for West Orange, as well as for the veterans that we honor and their families. It is a tradition I am proud to continue and I encourage everyone to make the time to attend,” Parisi said.