At a re-commemorative event at Weehawken High School, Mayor Richard Turner and school officials dedicated a new plaque that contains the names of three Weehawken residents, as well as one from Union City, who died in World War I, which ended 100 years ago next week.
For nearly 50 years, four stone markers with initials inscribed on them sat obscured on the lawn and grounds of what is today Weehawken High School.
That lasted until the Weehawken Historical Commission discovered that the stones were placed there in 1926 to commemorate four World War I veterans: William C. Kraft, Alexander L. Saldarini, Norman Walpole and Frederick H. Hansen.
Weehawken High School students and surviving veterans from the Vietnam War and the Iraq War of 1991 observed the ceremony in the school’s auditorium.
Troy Mack, an Iraq War veteran and the First Vice Commander of American Legion Post 18, spoke about the significance of the unveiling of the new plaque and a new historical marker to identify the original four stone markers.
“This was an opportunity for us today to be able to remember how the actions of others have made it possible for us to live our lives, for us to be able to cherish and love our families, and for us to move forward as a people, as a community and as neighborhoods throughout here and Hudson County,” began Mack.
As a veteran himself, we also asked him about the meaning of today’s re-commemoration for veterans who perished 100 years ago.
“I think the term brethren-in-arms is an intentional one. There are particular experiences that tie us together as human beings, and one of them is to bear the burden and costs of war but also the privilege and honor of serving on behalf of notions of a free society, of open markets, of a vote that’s accessible to universal suffrage and ultimately those principles of freedom and justice that are enshrined in our Constitution,” added Mack.
Turner said that although the stone markers were forgotten for 50 years, we should never forget a veteran.
“You never want to forget a veteran who gave the supreme sacrifice. So everybody went to work to rededicate the stones, and it’s very fitting to do it on Veterans Day, which is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I,” the mayor explained.
“And the best tribute we can make to all our veterans is to remember that they fought for our democracy, and voting is the best way to ensure that we have a democracy and it’s extremely important to preserve our democracy, that’s what they gave their lives for.”
Turner also reflected on what he hoped impressed the high school students who attended the ceremony.
“We always have to remind young people that there’s a legacy. Every community in America has a legacy, and this is part of our legacy. Veterans are part of our legacy,” the mayor stated.
“And the freedoms that they enjoy are because of all those who have defended the country over the years. So, it’s very important that we remind them, and it’s very important that they participate in it. For some it will be a fitting tribute and we are going to make sure that the four stones are never lost again to honor these four young men.”
The ceremony streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: