Memorial Day Celebration

On Decoration Day (original name for Memorial Day), May 30, 1924 at 10:30 am, the Cenotaph in Armory Park was officially dedicated, in a grand ceremony. The keynote speaker, for the occasion, was General of the Army, John “Blackjack” Pershing. The gentleman responsible for his attendance and for the creation of both the park and the Cenotaph, was Robert D. Benson, president of the Passaic Board of Education, former city councilman, highly respected local businessman and “Father” of Passaic’s park system. Also in attendance was General Pershing’s “aide de campe,” Lieutenant George C. Marshall, future Secretary of State and Head of the Joint Chiefs, during World War II.

The Cenotaph was created to honor those “Passaic Boys” who fought and in some cases died in the Great World War (later to be called world War I) The attached photographs, show General Pershing, Robert D. Benson and Lieutenant George C. Marshall, in an open touring car and the Cenotaph as it appeared a decade later. It shows the two gentlemen who led the United States Military in both World Wars; another great day in the history of our proud city, Passaic, New Jersey!

92 years later, to the day, we once again gather, at Passaic’s hallowed ground to remember, salute and pay our respects to all of Passaic’s sons and daughters who served and gave their all, in the cause of freedom and liberty!

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Photo Sources

  • Color postcard of Armory Park, featuring the Cenotaph and the Armory, late 1930’s - Personal collection of Mark S. Auerbach, Passaic City Historian
  • Photo of Pershing, Benson and Marshall - From the Collection of the Passaic Historical Commission, gift of Francis H. Hopkins, 1972