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 originally planted as a living tribute to the local servicemen who lost their lives while fighting for their country. Designed in 1949 by the Parks Department and the Peter G. Lehman Post No. 8646 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the grove honored the men who fought in World War II. A variety of oak trees including northern red, scarlet, and pin oaks were planted to give shade and create a tranquil area for reflective contemplation. The oak tree is a common symbol of strength and endurance and was fittingly used to honor the memory of those men serving in the wars.

Bronze plaques dedicated to twenty-one soldiers were placed beneath each newly planted tree. In addition, plaques to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the sons of the American Gold Star Mothers, Bronx Chapter were also dedicated. Roosevelt was memorialized here as commander-in-chief, president, statesman, and humanitarian. The American Gold Star Mothers continues today as an organization of mothers who lost a son or daughter in the service of the country. The grove later received additional plaques dedicated to the local soldiers who served and lost their lives in the Korean War.

Today, an annual Veterans Day event held at the grove brings together many diverse veterans groups from the area. In 2012 with City Council funding, the grove was restored and enhanced with replacement memorial plaques, new vegetation, and a boundary fence. An additional marker was added to the grove in 2018 to honor those from the community who served in the Vietnam War.

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