Home LifestyleHolidays Honoring Past + Present Hoboken and Jersey City Residents on Memorial Day

Honoring Past + Present Hoboken and Jersey City Residents on Memorial Day

by Erin Lanahan
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Sunny weather, cold drinks, hot dogs; Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and, for many in New Jersey, the beginning of long days lying on the sand down the shore. With high energy and fun plans, it’s easy to forget why we take off work the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is a national holiday to commemorate those who died while serving our country. Several spots around Hoboken and Jersey City honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Read on to learn about the history of Memorial Day and some of the memorials around Hoboken and Jersey City.

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A Brief History Of Memorial Day

The tradition of honoring those who died while serving our country dates back to the Civil War. The first Memorial Day was May 30th, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was an organization of former Union soldiers, proclaimed the day of remembrance. It was known then as “Decoration Day” because of the tradition of decorating the graves of soldiers with flowers, wreaths, and flags. As time went on, the name shifted to include all who served our country, not just Civil War veterans.

From 1868 to 1970, the holiday was observed on May 30th each year. New York was the first state to make it a legal holiday in 1873. It switched to the last Monday of May after Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, which moved several federal holidays to Mondays throughout the year. It created long weekends, which is why we commonly refer to the last weekend of May as Memorial Day Weekend.

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And a reminder — we honor all those who serve our country on Veterans Day, which is always celebrated on November 11th. Memorial Day is a more somber day, specifically remembering those who died in the line of duty.

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Several memorials around Hoboken and Jersey City honor the men and women who died while serving in the US military. While locals may walk by these statues and plaques every day, Memorial Day is a special time to reflect on what the memorials mean not only to the brave servicemen who died, but their families and the community.

Memorials in Hoboken

World War I Memorial | Sinatra Drive

Hoboken WWI memorial

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Photo Credit: Hoboken Historical Museum

Hoboken played a large part in the USA’s contribution to World War I. The government designated Hoboken as the main Port of Embarkation, so about two million men traveled through the city before heading to Europe between 1917 and 1918. The memorial pays tribute to all the Americans who traveled through Hoboken to serve our country. The plaque on the rock reads, “Dedicated to the valiant American expeditionary forces who embarked from this port to participate in the World War.”

World War II Memorial | Sinatra Drive

hoboken memorial wwii

This memorial honors Hoboken soldiers who died while serving our country in World War II. The memorial was put up in 2008 by the Hoboken World War II Memorial Fund Committee. It’s located right next to Pier C Park, so views of the city complement the statue commemorating the 159 soldiers who gave their lives.

Vietnam War Memorial | Sinatra Drive

vietnam memorial hoboken

Not too far away from the World War II memorial is the Vietnam War Memorial. It honors the soldiers who died in war and those soldiers who went missing and never made it home. The memorial reads, “Not Forgotten,” in large letters, paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 


 

Memorials in Jersey City

Korean War Veterans Memorial | Washington Street

photo credit erin korean war memorial

This memorial honors Hudson County residents who died during the Korean War. Built in 2002, the sculpture depicts a soldier helping another injured soldier, and carved into the black granite surrounding the two men are the names of 126 soldiers from Hudson County killed in the war. The design is based on a winning design from a competition held by the Stevens Institute of Technology. It’s located adjacent to Morris Canal Park and along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.

The Soldiers + Sailors Memorial | City Hall Park

Outside City Hall in Jersey City, a massive statue of a woman with her arm outstretched watches over the city. It honors the people who died while fighting in the Civil War. In the 1800s, the Veterans Association of Hudson County wanted a Civil War memorial in Jersey City and held a competition among artists for the honor of displaying their best statue. Out of 39 artists, a French artist named Philip H. Martiny was selected to build his memorial.

photo credit erin city hall soldiers and sailors

Inspired by the Roman goddess of war, Bellona, Martiny designed the nine-foot bronze statue of a woman sitting with a helmet, sword, and a laurel wreath. It’s thought she’s extending her hand to soldiers. The names of Civil War veterans and the battles they fought in are engraved on the pedestal below.

It has a special connection to Memorial Day, for it was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1899. According to New Jersey City University, this was not met with joy. Many veterans were not happy with the statue, nor were local artists who also competed to have their artwork displayed outside City Hall. This resulted in holding many Memorial Day activities and other events in other parts of the city.

Pershing Field Memorial Park | 201 Central Avenue

Pershing Field is home to basketball courts, a playground, and tennis courts in The Heights. It’s also the home of several memorials to Jersey City residents who served our country in World War I, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. The park is a memorial in itself — it’s named after Gen. John J. Pershing, who served in World War I.

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A statue titled “America Triumphant” honors the 147 soldiers from Jersey City killed in World War I. On Memorial Day in 2001, local officials dedicated The Jersey City Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It honors the 68 men from Jersey City killed in the Vietnam War and dozens of men and women impacted by the war after coming home from overseas. As you walk through the park, you may notice small stone markers with plaques. They have the names of Hudson County veterans from both World Wars, honoring their sacrifice to our country.

As we get ready to enjoy the warm summer months, these memorials serve as a reminder of the brave men and women who fought to protect our country. This Memorial Day, take a moment to reflect on their sacrifices and dedication to our country by visiting these memorials around Hoboken and Jersey City.

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