Clifton Avenue of Flags Committee Honored with NJ State Governor's Jefferson Award for Service

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Marie Schulties holds the NJ Governors Jefferson Award pictured with committee members Keith Oakley, Joe Tuzzolino, Bill Van Eck and John McGuire. Tony Latona presented the award.

The Clifton Veterans Avenue of Flags was presented with a New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award for their work preserving the Avenue of Flags tradition in Clifton.  For 20 years, Clifton’s Avenue of Flags has been laid out across the city hall complex by volunteers five times per year.

The committee is lead by Keith Oakley and includes Joe Tuzzolino, Bill Van Eck, Marie Schulties and John McGuire, who were presented with the award at the committee’s 20th Anniversary dinner this past Sunday.

Keith and Bill talked about the history of the Avenue of Flags effort, explaining its founding by Marine Corps Korean War veteran and Clifton resident, John Biegel.  It began with the support of the City Council and 200 flags and has grown to include 2,236 flags, all representing a US veteran that lived in Clifton.

In May of 2010, the Field of Honor was created and includes flags for the 283 veterans killed in action. Each flag is on a ten-foot pole with a name plate of the veteran. The flags are displayed in sections and are color coded to represent the different wars, which helps family members find their loved ones flag.

Keith shared “it is the greatest sound to hear the flags and think they represent our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers; most who made the ultimate sacrifice.” He added “all gave some, and some gave all.”

Mayor Anzaldi presented Keith and the committee with a proclamation from the city honoring its 20th Anniversary.  

Tony Latona representing the Knights of Columbus with Grand Knight Mike Cervine presented Keith and the committee the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award certificate, that was awarded in the "service for armed services and veterans in the military category".  Keith was nominated by Knights of Columbus member Ray Lill.  Tony explained a special request was made to allow the award to be presented at the 20th Anniversary event.

The National Jefferson Awards were founded over 40 years ago by Senator Robert Taft Jr, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Sam Beard.  New Jersey’s state-wide program began in 2007 and is co-administrated by NJ Governor's Office of Volunteerism, it was adopted as the official Governor’s award in 2010.  Since it’s inception, hundreds of NJ volunteers have been honored.

According to the Governor’s office, the awards honor NJ volunteers who “achieve measurable community impact and represent outstanding acts of public service, without expectation of recognition or compensation.” In their efforts, winners of this award “demonstrate vision, dedication and tenacity and serve as an inspiration for others.”

To learn more about the Avenue of Flags click here, to make a donation to the nonprofit organization that manages the effort or to find out how you can volunteer to help display the flags, click here.



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