Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Signs Mar Wwi Memorials

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Signs Mar Wwi Memorials

Article excerpt

Alan Juszcyk may be one of the few people in Passaic who actually knows what the two rows of mighty oak trees in front of 3rd Ward Memorial Park actually stand for.

The 66-year-old Van Houten Avenue resident has lived in the city all his life and grew up with those trees. They were planted to honor the 66 soldiers from Passaic who were killed in World War I -- each tree with a plaque at its base, each bearing the name of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Juszcyk reacted in shock and horror when he went out on Election Day and saw those trees decorated with political campaign signs -- two rows of blue and gold posters advertising the Democratic candidates for the state Legislature in the 36th District: Sen. Paul Sarlo and Assembly members Marlene Caride and Gary S. Schaer.

"These trees were planted to honor our fallen soldiers and to hang campaign signs on them is a desecration," Juszcyk said. He called the city public works department a day after the election, and by Thursday, all but one of the signs had been taken down.

Still, one campaign sign remained stapled to a tree in front of the park on Passaic Avenue. The plaque below read "In Memory of John Maguth" and just below the name it says simply, "World War."

Juszcyk pointed out that at the time the trees were planted, no one could have known that there would be a Second World War. But World War I, which was referred to as "the war to end all wars," did not live up to its slogan.

Juszcyk said he got a call from a friend, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, who was upset that Passaic's living symbols of heroic sacrifice were being used as political billboards.

"My friend was very upset about it," Juszcyk said. "The people who perpetrated this desecration do not have roots in Passaic that run as deep as these trees."

Sarlo, Caride and Schaer all won on Election Day, and most of their signs, as well as the signs of other candidates, have come down around town in the past few days. …

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