As Memorial Day approaches, so does an opportunity to explore New Jersey history through three of the Garden State’s monuments to soldiers who resided statewide and battles that were fought here.
Wars of America, Newark
Located at the southern gateway to Military Park in Downtown Newark is the ‘Wars of America’ memorial by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of the ‘Seated Lincoln’ memorial at the Essex County Courthouse as well as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Wars of America, which features two horses and 42 soldiers, “was one of the last great public projects completed before the Great Depression of 1929,” according to the Newark Public Library, and “is dedicated to the soldiers, sailors and marines of four American wars: the Revolution, Civil, Spanish-American and the Great War.”
The sculpture, the creation of which was funded by Newark furniture store owner Amos H. Van Horn, was dedicated during a ceremony attracting 14,000 of Newarkers on Memorial Day of 1926, according to the library. A National Park Service (NPS) form by Zakalak Associates states that “the citizens of Newark had waited many years beyond the promised completion date, but they all agreed that the statute made the waiting worthwhile.”
Military Park: 614-706 Broad Street, Newark
War Memorial, Trenton
The 85-year-old State-owned War Memorial in the state capital sits just a stone’s throw away from the New Jersey State House, and contains the Patriots Theater, which often hosts graduations, plays, and concerts, as well as an exhibit run by the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey. According to the Department of State, the memorial was “dedicated to the memory of the soldiers and sailors from Mercer County who died fighting World War I,” and was renovated during the 1990s. A NPS report states that the memorial “is constructed of buff Indiana limestone,” and that the architect was Trenton High School graduate Louis S. Kaplan. The memorial was constructed based on a recommendation by Trenton Mayor Frederick W. Donnelly’s War Memorial Committee, and “school children and teachers from throughout New Jersey collected almost $80,000 for the project,” according to the NPS report. Visitors to the memorial will notice that inscribed above the front entrance is a line reading that it is dedicated “to the soldiers and sailors and other patriotic citizens of Trenton and Mercer County as a memorial of their faithful services in times of national need.”
War Memorial: 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton
Battle Monument, Trenton
Less than a mile from the War Memorial near the Delaware and Raritan Canal is the Trenton Battle Monument, which towers over the ‘Five Points’ in the city’s North Ward. It was dedicated in honor of the Battle of Trenton during a ceremony in 1893 that attracted 120,000 people, according to the State, including “Governors of eight of the 13 original states.” Although the State-owned monument includes an observation deck, it has been closed for over a decade. Atop the deck is a statue of George Washington that was sculpted by William R. O’Donovan, according to a NPS report, which adds that the monument was designed by Grant’s Tomb’s architect, John H. Duncan.
Trenton Battle Monument: 350 North Warren Street, Trenton