The Memorial Grove Restoration Group will honor all war veterans at the 11th Veterans Day Ceremony, to be held at the east side of the Van Cortlandt Park Memorial Grove on Sunday, November 5, at noon.
The VCP Memorial Grove was in complete disrepair and seemingly forgotten until 2006. Bronx resident Herb Barrett, now 86 years old, a Marine Corps Korean War veteran and a member of the Jewish War Veterans, was taking his usual 10- to 12-mile bicycle ride in the neighborhood when he came upon what appeared to be an old war memorial, eventually discovering about 18 memorials on site. Barrett enlisted the aid of his friend, Don Tannen (now deceased), a veteran of WWII and member of the Jewish War Veterans, and the investigation began.
The two men contacted the community board, and a fence was erected around the memorial to preserve the area. After some research, they found that the area had been dedicated as a WWII memorial back in 1949. They sought and chronicled names of local war veterans, planted trees and mounted bronze memorial plaques on concrete bases at the base of the trees to honor each veteran. In 2010, then-local councilman Oliver Koppell had $250,000 allocated to restoring the grove.
Today, the two-acre memorial contains 40 individual monuments listing the names of 37 fallen servicemen from WWI, WWII and the Korean War, and honorary plaques for Gold Star Mothers, F.D.R. and VFW Post 8646. Among the memorials is one dedicated to the oldest son of former New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman and, in fact, Governor Lehman was at the memorial when it opened in 1949. The 2012 official groundbreaking for the restored memorial can be attributed to Barrett’s perseverance and dedication to this project.
The Veterans Day Ceremony at the VCP Memorial Grove will include local congressmen, assemblymen, community board representatives, clergymen and members of the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts. Members of ROTC from local colleges such as SUNY Maritime, Fordham University and Manhattan College will provide the Honor Guard, while flags for the event will be supplied by the Jewish War Veterans.
The event’s will be at Broadway and West 246th Street, Bronx, New York.
By Yvette Finkelstein