The Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony in Barnegat Township will take place on Wednesday, March 29 from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Barnegat High School gym.
The location is a break from tradition from when the first event was held in 2018 at the Frederick Watts Gazebo Park on the corner of East Bay Avenue and Route 9.
“Last year was really cold and windy, and I think it kept a lot of people from attending,” said Thy (pronounced Tee) Cavagnaro, a Barnegat Township resident who with her husband, Jimmy, established Thanking Vietnam Veterans. “That’s why we thought it would be best to hold it indoor so that anyone who wants to come can attend.”
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump proclaimed March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day. Barnegat held ceremonies in 2018, 2019 and 2022, but had to cancel events in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
Cavagnaro, who was recently named to the board of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, fled with her family to the U.S. after the South Vietnam capital of Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces in 1975. She was a toddler when the family escaped Saigon via her uncle’s naval warship, on which he served as captain. From there, they went to the Philippines, then Guam, then flew to one of three refugee camps set up at Indiantown Gap, Pa. Eventually, they were taken in by a family in East Brunswick.
“I have wanted to host the event as a thank-you to the veterans who helped keep the Communists away from our home in Vietnam, and made sure we had a safe passage to America after we lost our country.”
Keynote speaker will be Major General Clark Martin, a Vietnam War combat veteran with 100 missions flown. He served as commander, New Jersey Air National Guard for 23 years and is currently chair of the board of trustees for the N.J. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation and Vietnam Era Museum.
Last year’s keynote speaker, 11-year-old Vincent Lorenzo, will conduct the Pledge of Allegiance. His late grandfather James Beninato was awarded three Purple Hearts during his four-year tour of Vietnam.
“From the beginning, I have wanted young people to be a part of this,” said Cavagnaro. “It’s so important for them to learn about Vietnam.”
The color guard will feature the Barnegat High School NJROTC, and the Brackman Middle School chorus will sing the National Anthem. The high school marching band will perform an armed forces medley. Hall decorations, greeters, ushers and event volunteers are courtesy of the high school Interact and history clubs.
In addition, Veterans Administration and Disabled American Veterans representatives will set up shop in the cafeteria to assist with claims. Light food and baked goods will also be available.
For more information, the Cavagnaros can be contacted at email@example.com.
180 Bengal Boulevard
Barnegat Township , New Jersey 08005