JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – COVID-19 has put brakes on many aspects of life in America, but for one United States Marine Corps Veteran, Ken Bressi, who also serves as an elected member of the Jackson Township municipal council, it was only a speed bump. Bressi, who himself is fighting cancer, continues fighting to finish a veteran’s memorial he and partner Charlie Garafona, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran started nearly ten years ago.
“COVID-19 forced us to cancel our annual event which was a large part of our fundraising effort,” Bressi said. “We were able to put the new base in over at the memorial, but now, we’re trying to get the pillars done. Each pillar will represent each of the five branches of the United States armed services, Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.”
The Jackson Veterans Memorial Garden, Bressi says is Jackson Township’s tribute to all of the town’s veterans, regardless of when or where they served.
“A lot of memorials are specific to any particular war,” Bressi said. “Our memorial here in Jackson is dedicated to everyone because ultimately, everyone who volunteered for military service sacrificed a part of their lives to do it. Whether that’s being away from families, giving up something to serve, being deployed, whatever the case may be, we all knew that call could come at any time.”
Since COVID-19 has canceled the memorial garden’s annual get together, Bressi said the group is now raising money through the sale of a commemorative t-shirt. So far, the effort has raised nearly $2,000.
The shirts cost $25 each and have an American Flag and “Veterans Memorial Garden, Jackson, NJ” lettering below the flag.
Bressi, a fully disabled Vietnam combat veteran serves on the Jackson Township Veterans Commission, is one of the founders of the Jackson Marine Corps League, and has been a volunteer in the township government for over 30 years.
Bressi is hoping he will be able to host the annual Veterans Day ceremony this year at the memorial, which he has held since the memorial garden’s construction first began.