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Memorial Grove

Memorial Grove is located in Van Cortlandt Park, near 246th Street, between Broadway and the Van Cortlandt House Museum. In celebration of the Bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987, Parks planted 13 American linden trees between the Van Cortlandt Mansion and the Memorial Grove.

Memorial Grove was created to honor Bronx men who served in World War II and was later dedicated to those who served in Korea as well. The grove is shaded by Pin oaks, Red oaks, and Norway maples. In 1949, plaques were placed at the base of each of the 21 trees. At some point, additional plaques to honor the men who served in the Korean War were installed. The total number of additional plaques is unknown, but the most extensive record indicates that there were 39 plaques total.

Among the remaining plaques, those honored include 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.

Council Member Oliver G. Koppell allocated $250,000 toward a 2010 renovation of the grove to reinstall the plaques on secure pedestals and surround the grove with protective pipe rail fencing.

Awards and Honors

The men honored in the Memorial Grove died in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific during 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.