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Van Cortlandt Park

Memorial Grove

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Memorial Grove was created to honor Bronx men who served in World War II and Korea. The grove is shaded by Pin oaks (Quercus palustris), Red oaks (Quercus rubra), and Norway maples (Acer platanoides). Memorial Grove was first planted in 1949 to honor Bronx Men who served in World War II. It was later dedicated to those who served in Korea as well. In 1949, a plaque measuring 7 by 10 inches was placed at the base of each of the 39 trees. The plaques were later replaced with plaques on 12 by 14 inch granite bases. Of those only 18 are left.

Of the remaining plaques, those honored are Lieutenant Jerome Sheppard, Corporal Vincent Marzano, Lieutenant Peter G. Lehman, Sergeant John Basilone, Private Emil T. Pensas, Private First Class Rodman Wanamaker, Private Warren W. Bergoffen, Private First Class Harold L. Aborn, Private Melvin Singer, Private First Class Warren W. Jacobs, Sergeant Donald S. Candlyn, Lieutenant Frank A. Carpucci, Corporal Peter D.J. Beekman, Private Stanley Katz, Lieutenant William H. Forman, Sergeant Edward L. Bressler, and Private Dominick Masiello. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) also has a plaque at the base of a Pin oak tree.

The men in the Memorial Grove died in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific theater of World War II. Many received important awards for their valor and bravery. Sergeant John Basilone, a Marine, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. The Medal of Honor dates back to the Revolutionary War, and is the highest honor one can receive in the armed forces. Congress created the Navy Cross on February 4, 1919, and it is the second-highest Naval award a soldier can receive.

Lieutenant Peter G. Lehman and PFC Warren W. Jacobs both earned the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross in their service in the Army Air Force. The Distinguished Flying Cross is the second-highest award one can receive in the Air Force before the Medal of Honor. Congress established the award with the Air Corps Act on July 2, 1926, and it is given to a person who accomplishes an exceptional act of heroism in an aerial flight. The Air Medal, a lesser but still important award, was created by Executive Decree of President Roosevelt on May 11, 1942. The medal is awarded to a person who exhibits meritorious achievement in an aerial flight. Oak leaf cluster pins on a uniform represent subsequent Air Medals.

Memorial Grove is located in Van Cortlandt Park, near West 246 Street between Broadway and the Van Cortlandt Mansion. In celebration of the Bicentennial of the Constitution, Parks planted 13 American linden trees (Tilia americana) between the Van Cortlandt Mansion and the Memorial Grove in 1987.

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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