(TRENTON) – Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jack Conners (D-Camden/Burlington) released the following statement on Memorial Day 2010:

“Four years ago, I found it necessary to introduce a law in New Jersey that made it a crime to steal the headstones, brass markers, flag, or flag holders from a veteran’s grave site.

“Of course, I wish such legislation was not needed, but the reality was that, in cemeteries in Burlington and Camden counties, and indeed throughout New Jersey, the valuable metal found at many veterans’ grave sites became a target for thieves.

“I was reminded of this recently when it was reported that a local cemetery in my district had the graves of veterans violated, and their markers stolen. While I know the law I drafted cannot prevent people from disrespecting veterans’ graves so brazenly, if they now choose to commit this crime and are caught they will be brought to justice under the full authority of the law.

“Throughout the process of introducing my bill and having it signed into law, I had the opportunity to visit the graves of many soldiers from New Jersey, all of whom bravely served our country and many of whom gave their lives in its cause.

“I was struck by the dedication of our cemeteries, family members, veteran’s groups and good Samaritans in preserving and honoring the final resting place of our countries soldiers, many of who passed away generations ago. Their graves are brightened by flowers or adorned by our country’s flag, all there to pay respect to those that no longer are among us.

“We may not be able to visit the grave of a veteran this Memorial Day, but all of us, no matter where we are can remember them in our hearts. We must never forget as stated by President Lincoln, that these are the Americans who gave ‘the last full measure of devotion.’

“On this Memorial Day as our soldiers continue to place themselves in harms way around the world, we should pay homage and tribute to the many who gave their lives for our country, our veterans who have served, and those presently serving in our military.

“I ask that wherever you are this Memorial Day that you take a moment to join me in remembering and thanking our veterans especially those that we remember today.”

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