'At long last,' a WWII Memorial
By Jonathan Schuppe | Star-Ledger Staff
State military officials yesterday revealed plans for a World War II memorial in Trenton, a $4 million project expected to open on Veterans Day 2005.
Organizers unveiled the design during a ceremony on the Statehouse steps, directly across the street from Veterans Park where the memorial will be built. The event was marked by a sense of relief that, after many postponements, construction was finally about to begin.
“At long last,” said Albert W. Martis, vice chairman of a 13-member commission that developed the project. “I’m 84, and I didn’t’ think I’d live to see this day.”
A former Marine, Martis was shot in the jaw on his first day of battle in the Marshall Island in February 1944. With a new generation of veterans coming home injured from the Middle East, yesterday’s long-awaited ceremony was particularly poignant, he said. “I understand their plight. I went through it. We’re all lucky to be here.”
New Jersey, home of 615,000 veterans, already has a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, built in 1995, and a Korean War Memorial, which opened in Atlantic City in 2001.
The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs began planning a World War II memorial nearly four years ago, said retired Army Col. Stephen G. Abel, deputy commissioner of veterans affairs. Originally, the memorial was to be built on the Jersey City waterfront, but state budget shortfalls kept the project from moving past the drawing board.
A year ago, Gov. James E. McGreevey revived the project by adding money from the state budget. He appointed the commission, headed by his father, Jack McGreevey, a former Marine drill sergeant, to see it through.
The memorial, 103 feet by 179 feet, will feature a central sculpture called “Lady Victory” surrounded by a small amphitheater and stone carved panels depicting battle scenes.
The state is providing $2 million from its current budget for the memorial, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is chipping in $1 million, Abel said. The rest of the tab will be raised from private donors. Denver-based DHM Design is being paid more than $200,000 to build the memorial. Abel said the Trenton site is ideal because it will be seen by visitors to the Statehouse. Construction should begin in February.
Jonathan Schuppe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 989-0398.
Back to News Archive