Laser etched in the 7-foot-tall granite slab are 1,385 names of men and women who, from 1941 to 1945, went to war — people who came back, and people who didn’t. The other side is laser etched with the famous photographic image of Marines raising the U.S. flag on the island of Iwo Jima. The granite memorial was set in place Thursday on VJ Day — the 1945 shorthand for Victory over Japan — when the Asian power finally surrendered days after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
« It was a lot of people from a small town of 1.9 square miles, » said Carl Steinberg, a local historian and chairman of the monument committee. « My father is on there, Springsteen’s father is on there. … I had a cousin who died in the Battle of the Bulge. »
Like many small communities, Freehold sent more and more young people off as World War II continued. Steinberg said one of the challenges has been scouring military service lists and 1940s newspaper clips to find as many names as possible.
When complete, the WWII memorial area will be a pocket park with brick pavers and benches. Sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4374, the project cost about $100,000 and took about 1½ years of fundraising, Steinberg said.
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