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New Jersey’s Image – NJ pride

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Well this is a speech I gave 5 years ago concerning New Jersey pride for the first Celebrate NJ Day.  I just found out yesterday while googling, that it was required reading for a  New Jersey History class at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Chris Rasmussen
New Jersey History
History 2443, section 21 History House (135 SUB Lane)
Fall 2009 MWF 10-11 a.m., W 4-5 p.m.

September 4 Discussion: Garden State? Armpit of the nation?
Read: Robert Rosetta, “New Jersey’s Image”
Assignment: come to class prepared to discuss New Jersey’s image, at least one icon of that image, and the relationship between image and “reality”

Full Synopsis of course

It truly is nice to know that my message is being spread out there. I need to email the professor and see how the class is going, and find out particularly what the students came up with for the New Jersey Image.


Speech for Celebrate New Jersey Day – 10/21/2004

Over 300 years ago William Penn felt it necessary to stand up against the critics of New Jersey by saying, “That there is such a province as New Jersey, is certain…and it is not right in any to despise or dispraise it…”

170 years later, in 1846, Bishop George Washington Doane, son of the builder of the first NJ state house, declared “We have well nigh forgotten that we have a history. We have almost lost the very sense of our identity. We have no center. We have made no rally.” Now, 158 years later, we are here to make that rally.

Today we fight against and for over 300 years of long history. Against, because we have long sat in the shadow between Philadelphia and New York, never getting the recognition we so richly deserve. We fight for our history, because it is something to be proud of. States throughout the country would die to have the history that is contained in these 7,000+ square miles, yet we as a people do not celebrate it.

I have lived in 6 states and traveled to 34 others, I know the pride that the other states enjoy. It is time for New Jersey to take its rightful place and stand tall with similar pride. This has been my goal for the past 6 years when I first realized that the distain for New Jersey is not just from New York, but actually extends coast to coast as well as encountering it from people over seas and in Canada. It was because of the questions such as, “does New Jersey have any trees?” or “you mean Joisey?”, not to mention “Isn’t New Jersey just part of New York?” that brought out my love for this state and made me decide to develop my website. Through AboutNewJersey.com, my goal is to show people all that New Jersey has to offer and to do my part to bring pride to this under appreciated state.

My friends around the world, from Canada, to Sweden, Israel to Australia – know about my love for NJ, sometimes through the computer I can feel their eyes rolling and saying “not again”. But through sharing with them the history, my photos, the many things I do, and the numerous NJ postcards I send them I have now gotten them all to want to visit here.

To change the way the outside views New Jersey, we must first change the way the citizens of New Jersey feel about their own home state. How can we get others to respect us when we have two NFL teams who play here with another state’s initials on their helmets, with our rest stops along the Turnpike carrying NY merchandise, and nearly no NJ souvenirs — except for the Newark Airport snow globe, the same goes for Liberty State Park, our most visited park. How can people expect much from New Jersey when we don’t even have any welcome signs at our borders proudly announcing “Welcome to New Jersey, the Garden State”? When we have a 3 time Stanley Cup Champion that proudly carries the NJ name yet can’t even attract any attendance – because half the people from Northern New Jersey supports the NY team and southern NJ roots for the Philadelphia team. These are things that will have to be changed, to show people – it’s okay to be proud of NJ. To form a proud identity.

All New Jerseyans must be encouraged to be ambassadors of the state, instead of just blindly accepting the negative comments and stereotypes.

Now Marguerite told me that I should add in a bit about me and my “stories”. I would much rather talk about New Jersey, but here it goes. When I first moved back 5 years ago from Indiana, I was staying at my cousins’ house. All I kept hearing from Steve (13 at the time) and Joey (8 at the time) was how boring NJ is and there isn’t anything to do. I found out that they never actually had gone anywhere, so I took them places – Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Great Adventure, which they had never been to, Princeton, and more. I then took them out to Indiana and Chicago for a week. They both now have a different opinion of New Jersey. Steve just last month told me he found himself defending New Jersey and said he was becoming like me.

November of that same year, my sister came out to visit and said I should run for governor. I told her that’s okay – I just want to be New Jersey’s ambassador. And through the years that is what I have been. When anyone is willing to listen, and sometimes when they aren’t, I tell them about New Jersey and all there is to do here. When I see New Jersey not getting the respect or acknowledgement it deserves – I speak out.

When NY was on CNN’s Talk Back Live telling the world how they were planning on “hosting” the Super Bowl – I sent the show an e-mail. I informed Talk Back Live that it was impossible for NY to host the Super Bowl – since the Giants are a New Jersey team (no matter what initials they may wear on their uniforms) and the stadium is IN New JERSEY. If the Super Bowl were to take place in the Meadowlands – it would be hosted by New JERSEY – not New York. CNN chose my letter to read on the air and pointed out that I was correct. Even though the New York representative’s response was that it’s basically New York, and everyone considers it New York anyway, it was good to show everyone watching that it should have been NJ representatives on the program – not New Yorkers.

Again, this past spring, when I looked on Royal Carribean’s website and saw that they were sending vacationers to NY for side trips, even though their port of call was now New Jersey – I sent out my customary e-mail. A few days later I received a phone call from Jaye Hilton, Manager of Corporate Communications. She informed me that my e-mail had made it all around Royal Carribean. We talked and she invited me up for a private tour of the ships and to the Cape Liberty Cruise Port’s official opening. She also told me that it was very good that I wrote my letter, that it showed people that New Jerseyans want the recognition and that New Jersey is not an extension nor interchangeable with New York, but it’s own unique state. She also let me know that the website was being changed as we spoke and that if I had any other problems to call her personally.

In addition to speaking out, I also invite people out to visit and show them around. In August, a friend of mine from Texas came out. She wanted to get away from her roommate, had never been to New Jersey and decided spur of the moment that she wanted to see for herself what the big deal is with New Jersey. So she drove TWO days out here and arrived on Thursday. I took her to Princeton, Great Adventure, Cape May (where MAC kindly got me tickets to the Emlyn Physick Estate and the trolley tour), Seaside Heights, Delaware & Raritan Canal, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Plainsboro, Liberty State Park, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and I’d hate to admit it – New York. Needless to say – she left Monday exhausted. She got the quick Reader’s Digest view of New Jersey, but at least enough to see the diversity of the state. She left here wanting to explore more and wanting to come back.

This is what “Celebrate New Jersey” Day is all about. – it’s a way to showcase the state to its citizens who take so much of it for granted.

It’s going to be a long road and it won’t be easy to change people’s perception and attitude toward NJ, but with hard work and dedication, I know we can succeed.

1 COMMENT

  1. Just read your article, “New Jersey’s Image – NJ Pride.” I grew up in West Orange, New Jersey in the 1950’s and totally agree with you. I worked with a girl from Philadelphia in the 1970’s and all she did was put down New Jersey and say how great Philadelphia was. I would frequently tell he that she should move back to Philadelphia!

    Unfortunately, I moved to Florida in the mid-seventies, after my parents and other family moved there. I still miss New Jersey, and consider it my home. You are on my face book page and I love seeing the photos you post! You show the real New Jersey! I am still always telling people that New Jersey is NOT the areas seen along the Turnpike – they have to see the shore – with the beautiful beaches all along the east coast and the mountains in the western areas, as well as all of the diverse areas in between. I miss the seasons of New Jersey – they are all perfect – not usually harsh weather, and it’s so nice to have the changes of each one.

    Last night, we went to see the movie, “Jersey Boys” and I must say, I really did not enjoy it at all…. because it portrayed New Jersey in the typical stereotype way. Although I lived in that time, and not far from that place, I never saw that image. I watched “Jersey Shore” only once or twice, and that show certainly did not portray the “Jersey Shore” that I loved, where I spent many summer and even some winter days.

    Maybe you noticed throughout my message, other than in the titles of the movie and the TV show, I always call New Jersey, “NEW Jersey.” I always correct people when they say “Jersey” and tell them it’s NEW JERSEY! You don’t call other states, Mexico, York, Hampshire! It’s NEW JERSEY!! The last time I was in New Jersey, I purchased a coffee cup at Newark Airport, with pictures of a lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty! It also reads, NEW JERSEY in big letters around the cup… I keep it at work and proudly carry it back and forth to the break room.

    Keep up your great work of promoting the real New Jersey, through your writings and and your beautiful pictures!

    Thank yoU!

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