Bridgeton, NJ Seeks to Restore CW Memorial

The Philadelphia Inquirer posted a piece on efforts to restore the Cumberland County Civil War Memorial in Bridgeton, New Jersey:

It is a forlorn sight in what should be a place of honor. The statue of a musket-bearing Civil War soldier, in Bridgeton City Park for nearly a century, is headless, the top of the musket broken off, too.

“Who would gain by this? Why would someone even think to do it?” said Bridgeton Chief of Police Mark Ott. “This isn’t even just a chip off the base. Someone had to get up 10, 12 feet and work hard to break off a huge piece of granite.”….

The 1,100-acre park has always been Bridgeton’s jewel. The desecration of the Civil War statue, discovered Dec. 6, is painful, said Mayor Albert Kelly.

“It is where we all go to have some peace,” Kelly said. “We have had so little crime there. It’s the place Bridgeton honors, no matter what else is going on.”

Ott said the musket from the eight-foot-tall Georgia Ebony granite statue was found near the piece’s 14-foot base. The head, partly mutilated, showed up a few days later in a ditch several hundred yards away….

Into the breach has come Rich Mendoza, a retired music teacher in the Deptford schools and an amateur Civil War historian. He is captain of the “re-created” 12th N.J. Volunteer Infantry Company K, which mustered out of Bridgeton from a building that still stands at the corner of Commerce and Laurel Streets, Mendoza said.

Mendoza, 65, who grew up in Deptford and lives in Voorhees, will emcee a benefit concert Saturday to help pay for reconstruction of the statue. The Libby Prison Minstrels, a group in which he plays guitar, will be joined by a brass band, a fife-and-drum group, and a balladeer, David Kincaid, all doing Civil War-era music. The event will be held at the Marino Center on Washington Street in Bridgeton. Tickets are $10 and available through Bridgeton City Hall…. (read more)

There are more details about the benefit concert on the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial website.

And with that link, let me say again what a fantastic job the New Jersey Sesquicentennial Committee is doing.  In my opinion, the work of the committee stands out as a model example of how to approach the sesquicentennial at the state level.

In my clips from the article, I skipped over, for brevity, the Inquirer’s description of the Bridgeton community.  Since I don’t know the particulars, I can only go off what the article mentions.  Still I find it  interesting the mayor mentioned the park as a place “where we all go to have some peace.”  While I cannot speak directly for Bridgeton’s memorial and park, that statement echoes the purpose of the Civil War veterans organizations as they established memorials around the country – looking for a place to both honor the sacrifice, yet find some peace on this earth.


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