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Penns Grove High School Vietnam War Memorial

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Stony Creek Granite Sites Monuments & Parks Penns Grove High School Vietnam War Memorial

Penns Grove High School Vietnam War Memorial

Penns Grove High School Vietnam War Memorial 


‎"This rock is a seed, it’s the foundation, the foundation of America" (Leone, 2011). First extracted in 1858 by Benjamin Green, Stony Creek granite has become an important part of America. Seen in many famous architectural, municipal, and cultural pieces throughout the US, Stony Creek granite has proved to many designers and architectures why it is the best stone to work with. Known for its strength, unusual yet breath taking appearance, and reliability, the granite has been used in the base of the Statue of Liberty, the building of the Penn Station, and the library steps of Quinnipiac University.

  Upon its discovery by Green, the Stony Creek granite quarry was divided into three quarries as time passed. The Stony Creek Red Granite Company, Norcross Brothers and Guilford’s Beattie Quarry offered different types of the Stony Creek Granite. The Stony Creek Red Grantie Company’s quarry contained the granite of outstanding quality. This specific Granite can be seen in the post office area in Grand Central Station located in New York.

Although the Stony Creek Granite quarry was divided into three different companies, each company offered different thing. The Norcross Compan was known for being able to create large blocks of the crude stone. For the West Point Monument, Norcross had to blast a block 20 x 50 square feet long and weighed 75,000 pounds. A boat and then train transferred the block to West point.

Located in Salem County New Jersey, resides a small town Penns Grove. With a population of only 5,000 residents, Penns Grove is located near the Delaware River and the Carney Point Townships. Despite its small size, Penns Grove does have plenty of diversity. Consisting of 48.5% Caucasian, 39.7% black and .37$ Native American. Although Penn Grove’s diversity is an important factor, 29.1% of its population considered to be impoverished. The main schools in this town are Penns Grove Middle School and High school.

altIn 2010 Alumni of Penns Grove High School unveiled the Vietnam War Memorial on the High Schools grounds in honor of their fallen classmates. Sculpted entirely of Stony Creek granite, the one of a kind monument currently sits under the shade of a few trees on the lawn of the former High School. Standing at approximately 4 feet tall with a slanted top smooth top and rough unfinished bottom, the monument has the names of all of the soldier graduates of Penns Grove High School. Beneath their names read, “to honor their sacrifice in Vietnam."

  After being approved for allowing of the building of the monument in March 2009, Nick Santore, former principal and alumni of Penns Grove kicked the project in gear. Mike Devonshire, an architect and alumni of Penns Grove High School, derived 6 different possible schematics for the monument for Santore to choose from. “ ‘It was a concept that came out a couple years ago from a conversation I had with Mr. Santore,’ said Devonshire. ‘I did some sketches and he picked the one he liked and we went with it’. ” The design was to have the sculpted and shaped part of the rock emerging from crude rock on the bottom to represent the lives of the soldiers. “All these guys were cut off in mid-creation,” said Devonshire. Just like the monument, the soldiers lives were cut short; all between the ages of 18- 25 the young men risked their lives to save their country, but died in the line of fire. These men were supposed to go onto college, marry, start a family; however, that was all taken away from them when they decided to stand for their country’s rights.


Once the design had been chosen the project the next step was to raise the money to fund the project. First starting with only a $1,000 donation from one of the father’s of fallen soldiers, Santore began his hunt for donations to fund the Memorial. It could be seen that this project impacted many lives of people in the community; over 180 people donated to the cause because .  Both Santore and Devonshire shared a close connection to most of the men listed on the monument, thus causing them to feel more connected to not only the Memorial but also the entire process that led up to the final unveiling of the Vietnam War Memorial. “ ‘It’s a tribute to these guys,’ said Devonshire. ‘You have to think about all the stuff that we have been able to go through our entire lives, just think about it, because they never got to experience it.’ ” Other groups that participated in the raising of funds were Penns Grove Veterans of Foreign Wars and Penns Grove–Carneys Point Regional School District. Once all of the funds were raised, the sculpting of the design for the stone was place in full effect.

When discussing the selection of the stone to use for the Memorial, Devonshire said that without a doubt he knew that he wanted to use Stony Creek granite. The stones impressive beauty of its unoriginal mixture of colors and strength qualities captured the attention of the architect. “ ‘When it came time to choose a material, there was no guessing. I wanted granite from Stony Creek, it is an amazing, beautiful stone,’ ” (Devonshire, 2010).

  Stony Creek granite can be traced back to 600 million years old and can withstand temperatures up to 1300ºF or 704.4ºC. Formed from the cooling of magma under the Connecticut River years ago, the granite laid there for years solidifying. It wasn’t until the last ice age when the Connecticut River shifted that allowed for the revealing of the rose and white quartz and black granite to be revealed, thus deputing the Stony Creek granite.

  After the creation of the railroads, stony creek granite could be transported to different parts of the country thus increasing it trade profits. As the mining production of the quarry began, many immigrants were provided with jobs. A typical employee of the Stony Creek Quarry would be of either the Irish, Scottish, or Spanish descent. Back in the early 1900 it was not easy to quarry the precious granite, which is why the process required so many employees. Over 1,800 men would be employed for just one of the quarries. Before the help of machinery, one had to clean and remove any loose soil surrounding the crude rock and then drilled holes by hand into the rock. These holes were then filled with dynamite powder and blown apart into typically 20 ton sized block. Sometimes the explosion would result in the formation of smaller pieces of stones that were futile; however, employees tried to prevent this from happening as little as possible. One of the largest pieces of stony creek granite every formed stood at approximately 127 feet tall. Today hydraulic drills are used and the quality of the dynamites has greatly improved. Also the amount of stone that would have taken employees to cut in three years can be completed in less than a month due to today’s technology.


After a year and half of working on the Vietnam War Memorial, it was ready for its public debut on September 18. Students, members of the community, and families of the soldiers gathered together to pay tribute to the lives of the soldiers. Siblings, parents and other relatives to the soldiers spoke during the ceremony. Edward Wetzel, the younger brother to the late Charles Wetzel thanked everyone who worked to bring the memorial to life.  He stated, “I am impressed by the sensitivity implicit in the design of the memorial. The partly finished stone fittingly symbolizes the unfinished lives of these young men. They never had a chance to really experience the many joys and sorrows of a full life. They shall remain forever unfinished” (Wetzel, 2010).


Names of Soldiers from uppermost left corner to right 1) 2) Henry Robert Hocknell Jr. 3) Charles Wetzel  4)Tommy Rogers 5)Robert Allen Layton 6)Charles Wetzel 7) Tommy Rogers 8) Bobby Ferelli










Last Updated on Monday, 24 October 2011 15:46  


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Uncirculated: Shrink wrapped in clear plastic from original Italian publisher, 1999. Ships with fresh samples of sparkling Stony Creek pink granite for historians, collectors, geologists and classrooms. Additional samples available upon request.