New Jersey remembers its veterans
by Tom Hester/The Star-Ledger
Published: Tuesday November 11, 2008, 7:45 PM
With more than 1,900 people looking on, the strong majority of them aged World War II veterans, state officials and veterans leaders today dedicated New Jersey's long overdue World War II memorial in Trenton.
The veterans, many of them walking with the aid of canes or bundled in blankets against a chill November breeze, heard tributes offered to them as members of "the Greatest Generation.''
Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger
Floyd Kirkland, left, of Trenton and a WWII veteran with the 269th Engineers views a section of the New Jersey World War II Memorial with Bob Knecht of Union, a WWII veteran with the 87th infantry before the dedication of the memorial this afternoon.
And at 3:45 p.m., on a Veterans Day 63 years after the end of the war, Gov. Jon Corzine and Major Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, commander of the New Jersey National guard, lowered a red, white and blue banner signed by many of the New Jersey guardsmen serving in Iraq to unveil the centerpiece of the impressive memorial, a 12-foot, one-ton bronze sculpture of "Lady Victory" atop a 5-foot pedestal.
Earlier, Corzine told the veterans, "We salute you because of the personal courage it required both to leave your jobs and families and to see fellow soldiers, perish, sometimes at your feet, on the battlefields of Europe, in the skies over Asia, and on the fronts in Africa and the Pacific Rim. We salute you because your courage and fortitude set an example for all of us - and then you came back and built up this country into what it is today.''
Among the veterans was 100-year-old former Army paratrooper Frank Cuccia, who presented an envelope to Corzine to pass to future governors that details the location of two time capsules secretly buried in the memorial park.
Prior to the dedication, World War II veteran Thomas F. Mahoney, 86, of Union (Union County) walked the park alone and paused to linger at the wall depicting the war in the Pacific. He is president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Chapter II of Central Jersey.
Mahoney looked the photos on the wall, marines climbing aboard landing craft, fighter planes in action, a sailor blowing taps. "This is almost forgotten about," he said recalling the war. "It's a shame."
Officially known as the World War II Memorial at Veterans Parks, the monument stands in the shadow of the Statehouse located directly across the street.
More than 500,000 New Jersey men and women served the nation as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, and more than 30,000 made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country. Veterans officials estimate more than 90,000 World War II veterans still call New Jersey home.
|Video: World War II memorial is unveiled
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