World War One Memorial – Weehawken, NJ

Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918World War One memorials commemorate the events and the casualties of World War One. Each of these monuments you see in a town square or near a VFW hall represents the sacrifice men made almost 100 years ago. Each slab of granite or statue was dedicated to remembering those involved in the conflict. Huge numbers of memorials were built in the 1920s and 1930s, with around 176,000 erected in France alone! This was a new social phenomenon and marked a major cultural shift in how nations commemorated conflicts. As the decades past on and other wars took place the interest in World War I and its memorials faded. in the late 80s and into the 90s a rennisance took place as intrest in the memorials increased significantly in Europe, some  national and civic memorials continue to be used for annual ceremonies remembering the war here in the USA.

Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918The sculptor of the Solider & Sailor Memorial was Giovanni (John) Rapetti. He was born in Como, Italy in 1862 and studied in Milan, Italy and Paris. While in Paris Rapetti worked as an assistant to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi was the man behind the Statue of Liberty and Rapetti worked on the statue. His name is inscribed on the crown as one of the creators.  In 1889, William Ordway Partridge persuaded  Rapetti to accept employment in his studio. He came to the United States and worked of the Colombian Exposition. In addition, locally in Weehawken he did the famous Alexander Hamilton Memorial. 

Rapetti created Weehawken’s World War One Memorial in bronze. The Memorial is located at Boulevard East and Hudson Pace. It sits silently guarding the the cliffs of Weehawken, with the island of Manhattan as a backdrop.

Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918The memorial consits of a pair of Bronze Eagles, a “Doughboy” and a Sailor.

What was a ‘Doughboy? No it isnt a form of baked good from Pillsbury. “Doughboy” was a popular nickname for the American soldiers and Marines during World War I.  While soldiers and Marines of the American Expeditionay force were also referred to as Yanks, or Sammies( an unpopular term not appreciate by the men), the name “Doughboy” became the term that most people envison when they think of a WW1 Soldier.
Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918

When you think of World War One the US Navy doesn’t immediately come to mind. The American navy focused on countering enemy U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition they escorted convoys of  men and supplies to frontlines in France and Italy. Due to her late start in the war, the United States Navy’s capital ships never engaged the Germans and only a few decisive submarine actions occurred. Four United States Navy ships were lost during America’s involvement in the conflict, only two by enemy action though six merchant ships with armed guards aboard were also destroyed.

Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of American, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.

It is said the eagle was used as a national emblem because, at one of the first battles of the Revolution (which occurred early in the morning) the noise of the struggle awoke the sleeping eagles on the heights and they flew from their nests and circled about over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous cries. “They are shrieking for Freedom,” said the patriots.
Thus the eagle, full of the boundless spirit of freedom, living above the valleys, strong and powerful in his might, has become the national emblem of a country that offers freedom in word and thought and an opportunity for a full and free expansion into the boundless space of the future.
–Maude M. Grant

Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918

The Smitsonian Institute, in their Save Outdoor Sculpture, New Jersey survey, 1994 describe the memorial as such; Two full-length bronze figures flank a square granite column. The figure on the left is a World War I sailor. He is dressed in uniform and wears a sailors cap. He holds a rifle in front of him with both hands placed on the barrel of the gun. The butt of the gun rests on the ground in front of him. The figure on the right is a World War I doughboy. He also wears a uniform and helmet and holds a gun in the same position. Both figures are positioned with their backs to the monument column and stand on granite bases which rest flush against the column. The capitol of the column is decorated with bas-relief elements. A bronze bas-relief eagle, perched on an olive branch with wings outspread, is centered on the front and back faces of the column. Weehawken Memorial WWI 1917 - 1918

The Weehawken World War One Memorial is dedicated for her twenty-one sons who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War One. A visit to Weehawken, N.J. is very easy from New York City as it is directly opposite the Lincoln Tunnel entrance .  There are many great restaurants in the area and the views of Manhattan can’t be beat.

Rapetti was a long time resident of Weehawken N.J. and died in his home in Weehawken on June 23, 1936.

GPS: 40.772203, -74.015882

Sources include:


World War 


Smithsonian Institute

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