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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2017

Contact: Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Robert Geist (609) 292-2994

DEP ANNOUNCES AMERICA’S VETERANS TO BE HONORED ON DECEMBER 16 WITH SOLDIERS’ CHRISTMAS PROGRAM AT FORT MOTT STATE PARK
WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY ALSO SCHEDULED AT FINN’S POINT NATIONAL CEMETERY AS PART OF NATIONAL WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA EVENT

(17/P123) TRENTON – The sacrifices of America’s troops and military veterans will be honored on Saturday, December 16 with the annual Soldiers’ Christmas event at Fort Mott State Park in Salem County, and a wreath-placement ceremony at a nearby national cemetery, the Department of Environmental Protection’s State Park Service announced.

A Soldiers’ Christmas runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Fort Mott State Park, 454 Fort Mott Road in Pennsville, Salem County, featuring guided lantern tours, discussions about how the military observed holidays, and other historical information. At noon that day, a wreath-laying ceremony is planned at nearby Finn’s Point National Cemetery to honor fallen soldiers.

Soldiers’ Christmas event at Fort Mott State Park in Salem County

“These annual programs give us a chance to remember and honor the service of our nation’s military as they still defend our freedoms,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The State Park Service proudly participates in A Soldiers’ Christmas and the wreath placement to recognize those who have served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Soldiers’ Christmas lantern-guided tours begin at the Fort Mott State Museum, last about 45 minutes, and are generally limited to 25 people per tour. Tours begin at 5 p.m., and the last tour leaves the museum at 9 p.m. Reservations are not required. Tours are free, and will be given in inclement weather.

The Soldiers’ Christmas lantern-guided tours

While at the museum, tour visitors will learn about the military during the holidays before heading out on the tour, which will feature a collection of historical periodicals, soldiers’ letters, military or historical posters, and much more.

“There are a number of opportunities throughout the year for visitors to New Jersey state parks and historic sites to learn about our extensive military history and how soldiers lived during wartime,” said Mark Texel, Director of the Division of Parks and Forestry. “The Fort Mott Lantern Tours not only educate our guests about what life was like for troops during Christmas, but reminds them of our soldiers’ bravery, and the sacrifices they made to be away from their families.”

Lantern tour participants are encouraged to dress warmly and bring flashlights. Parking will be at Fort Mott’s Parade Ground and lighting will be set up to illuminate the field. The event is co-sponsored by the 9th Division World War II Historical Preservation Society.

“The Soldiers’ Christmas event provides a window into what soldiers, sailors and marines from many countries and time periods experienced while away from their loved ones,” said Andy Grant, Resource Interpretive Specialist of Historic Resources for the State Park Service, and Fort Mott historian. “As we remember the men and women still on the front lines around the world who will be apart from their families this holiday season, we on December 16 will also mark the 120th anniversary of Fort Mott being officially named after Major General Gershom Mott.”

The Finn’s Point Wreath-Laying Ceremony and dedication is part of a nationwide Wreaths Across America commemoration. Visitors are encouraged to arrive before 11:30 a.m. in order to park at the Fort Mott parking lot and take a free bus ride to the cemetery. The wreath placement event is sponsored locally by Salem County’s Oak Tree Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Fort Mott State Park and Finn’s Point National Cemetery are both located in Pennsville, Salem County, and each has long had a unique military significance for New Jersey.

Fort Mott was part of a 19th century three-fort coastal defense system, evolving after the Civil War to defend the Delaware River and Philadelphia. It expanded with the approach of the Spanish-American War, but became obsolete after World War I with construction of a fort farther south in Delaware.

Finn’s Point National Cemetery is the resting place for some 2,500 Confederate soldiers who died while prisoners at Fort Delaware, which is on an island across from Fort Mott, as well as 135 Union soldiers who died while imprisoned. The cemetery also contains the remains of veterans from later wars, including World War II.

For information and driving directions, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/fortmott.html or www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/finnspoint.asp

For details about Wreaths Across America, visit: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

To learn more about the 9th Division World War II Historical Preservation Society, visit: www.9thDivision.com

For other seasonal events at New Jersey state parks, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/

Like the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/newjerseystateparks

Follow the New Jersey State Park Service on Instagram @newjerseystateparks

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