(Look Back is an occasional series with content and images from the Atlantic County Historical Society.)
Atlantic County may not have the largest or most well-known war monuments such as the Vietnam Wall or the World War II Memorial in Washington, however one may view several outstanding pieces of art dedicated to the heroes in Atlantic County who fought in the various wars going as far back as the Revolutionary War.
The first monument known as Chestnut Neck in Port Republic was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution and commemorates the destruction of the village of Chestnut Neck by British troops on Oct. 6, 1778.
In Somers Point, a beautiful monument next to the bay commemorates the lives of 117 men who died defending the shores of Somers Point during the years 1812-1815. Among the names are members of the Somers family, founders of the city.
The first war memorial in the Atlantic City area was erected in 1916 and dedicated to the Civil War soldiers and sailors who perished in that conflict. There are four figures at the base representing infantry, cavalry, navy and artillery. Casualties from the Spanish-American War are also noted on that monument.
The most visible monument is the Greek Temple commemorating the World War I casualties. It was built in 1922. It greets drivers approaching Atlantic City from Route 40. The interior of this beautiful rotunda shows a statue named "Lady in Distress" draped in a French flag cradling a dying male soldier. A broken sword and other items of war litter the base of the statue. The woman is pictured looking into the heavens and crying out. Inside the monument are all of the battles in which residents of the area fought during the conflict. The monument protrudes into the street and there have been many suggestions of moving it.
Bronze markers at the base of trees in O'Donnell Park identified the local casualties of World War II, however, due to vandalism the remaining markers were moved and stored for safe keeping. The names have been transferred to an Honor Roll Monument in the park as well as names from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. The park is located on O'Donnell Parkway, between Atlantic and Providence Avenues. It also contains monuments to Purple Heart recipients and men from the 87th division.
On the Boardwalk in front of the Claridge and Bally Hotels is a monument to the Korean War veterans and firefighters. This incredible sculpture exposes the raw emotions being felt by these brave men and women. A walk on the Boardwalk would not be complete without stopping and reflecting on that visual.
Founded in 1913, the Atlantic County Historical Society has been preserving historical materials in its library and museum since. Every week, Wednesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it opens its doors to share these collections with anyone who is interested. The society building is at 907 Shore Road in Somers Point. More information is available at www.atlanticcountyhistoricalsocietynj.org and on Facebook, or by calling 609-927-5218.