Our honored dead

Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day here here in the United States.

It is a day set aside to honor the dead of all American wars.

It began as an effort to honor the Civil War dead.1 After the First World War, it was to honor all American dead, and in 1981, it was renamed Memorial Day and declared a national holiday.2

In 2000, Congress called on all Americans to participate in “local and national observances and ongoing activities … to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”3

So this year The Legal Genealogist joined the Honor Roll Project of my friend and fellow blogger Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy. Heather started the project in 2010, to ensure that there will be a readily accessible record of the names of those honored by all the small towns and cities across America.

All it requires is a camera — to photograph a war memorial — and transcription time — to document all the names.

I chose the Woodbridge Proper Honor Roll here in New Jersey. The Township of Woodbridge has many smaller neighborhoods — Avenel, Colonia, Port Reading as examples — and one of them distinguishes itself from the township by calling itself Woodbridge Proper.

Its memorial records 1170 names of men and women who served in World War II.


The memorial was dedicated in 1944 by, among others, the mother of the first man from Woodbridge Proper to die in the Second World War. From the memorial and town records, there were 17 from that part of town who gave all, whose families suffered the grief of being Gold Star families:

• Anderson, Walter L.
• Crumb, John M. Jr.
• Czick, Louis
• Dunigan, Bernard J.
• Kenna, Joseph H.
• Krewinkle, William J.
• Madden, Robert J.
• McLaughlin, Lawrence
• Patten, Nathan H.
• Petersen, Raymond T.
• Romond, John L.
• Sofield, Gordon W.
• Sullivan, John J.
• Teal, Harry B., Jr.
• Varga, Bert S.
• Vizenfelder, Anthony
• Weaver, Guy W.

A complete transcription of all 1170 names can be found here.


Image: Judy G. Russell 2014.

  1. Memorial Day History,” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (http://www.va.gov/ : accessed 18 May 2014).
  2. See 36 U.S.C. §116(a) (“The last Monday in May is Memorial Day”).
  3. P.L. 106-579 (2000).
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6 Responses to Our honored dead

  1. Heather Rojo says:

    Thank YOU, Judy!

  2. Suzanne Smith says:

    There is a small honor roll (WWII) at my son’s high school here that I plan to photograph and upload to the project. The last name on the list is a woman. I’m hoping to persuade the school journalism program to research her and find out who she was and how she lived and died.

  3. Lee Martin says:

    Hi Judy,

    For Memorial Day, I went to most of the cemeteries where my ancestors/ancestresses lie within short driving distance where I live and re-photographed tombstones until my memory card filled up and couldn’t take anymore {sigh}. I recently got out of the service (within the last 5 years) from multiple tours overseas during the Second Gulf War. Genealogy is one of those insanity s that keeps me sane. In a few months I go to Plymouth, Mass. for Mayflower Congress and will re-visit ancestral graveyards and courthouses rummaging through old documents to flesh out the family.

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