The park, formerly known unofficially as the "Triangle Park" was re-christened "The Veterans' Memorial Plaza," and according to many of the veterans present, was a long time coming.
"This is important because many of these men are in the last phase of their lives," said Union City Veteran Affairs Monitor John McMahon. "This is like a 'last hurrah' for them and it shows that the city and the town officials are thankful for what the vets have done in all the different wars."
Interestingly, though there are war monuments sprinkled in different locations in Union City, there was never a park dedicated specifically to veterans. The Veterans' Memorial Plaza will now be a permanent setting where people can pause and reflect on all that veterans have done for the United States.
For years, the Triangle Park was dedicated specifically to the veterans of the Spanish- American War, which began and ended in 1898. A statue of a "Rough Rider," as American soldiers were called in that war, has stood in the park since its founding around the turn of the 20th century. The statue, as well as the park itself, have been refurbished by the Union City Parks Department.
New plaques and headstones have also been added to the park. One headstone reads, "Veterans Memorial Plaza honors all veterans who made the supreme sacrifice in all wars: Mayor Brian P. Stack and Commissioners, Union City, October 29, 2004." Another headstone honors the men and women who served in 1991's Desert Storm and the current Iraqi campaign.
One plaque holds a special meaning for one Union City veteran named Dave Dulack, a veteran of the Korean Conflict. As Dulack explained, his old headquarters, Union City Veteran's Post 46, used to be located at 43rd Street and was at some point knocked down. The plaque that identified the building was lost to the ages until recently, when it was found in an attic. The plaque was restored to its former glory and presented at last week's dedication. It is mounted on a concrete slab with a space next to it for whatever war is honored next.
Said Dulack, "I've waited a lifetime for something to be dedicated. I was afraid that I was never going to see this day. We can truly call this park our own. We know now that we'll be here permanently."
Desert storm represented
Not all of the veterans present were "old timers." Eric K. Williams, a Union City resident, who also happens to be the official bugler for the West Hoboken Veterans Post 14, is a Navy veteran of the Desert Storm conflict. Due to his relatively young age. one would think that his perspective would be a bit different, but, according to Williams, that isn't really the case.
"We're all veterans, regardless of age," said Williams. "This park will help me honor those that have fallen. It keeps their sacrifices fresh. I lost friends in the Gulf War, so this is a personal thing for me. It's an honor."
Mayor Stack praised the veterans for giving of themselves and for "making what we have today possible." Added Stack, "No matter what you may think of war, you have to honor those that chose to make the supreme sacrifice for their country. Today and from now on, we are honoring those people."