Cemeteries in the United States are generally funded by state and/or federal governments. There is one exception to that general rule in the works right now in Sussex County New Jersey. The Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery being built in Sparta, NJ is the first privately funded memorial cemetery in New Jersey. In an article in Veteran magazine, Mary Bruzzese goes into detail about how the cemetery came to be. She states, “Although many of New Jersey’s veterans live in the northern half of the state, there is no veteran’s cemetery servicing the northern counties.[i]” Wallkill Valley Chapter 1002 in Vernon, New Jersey is leading the way for the cemetery to come into existence. Sussex County has a long military based history with many veterans living in it. The project started just a few years ago, but the group was given the go ahead to start building the cemetery once they get all of the funds that the need. The land was sold to them by the county for $1 and made officially theirs.
Every war in this country’s existence has had someone from the area fight in it. It is important to recognize those who have fought bravely from our area locally. It makes sense for there to be a cemetery dedicated to the men and women who fought for our country. The article mentions that the cemetery is going to be offering plots to veterans, their wives, and children under eighteen to anyone in north New Jersey. It is exciting to have such a historic monument being set up in our own back yard. The local community has been helping raise money for the event. Sussex County Technical School rose over $14,000 for the cause by dedicating their annual duct tape fashion show to it last year. This year the show’s organizer, Dennis Paladini says that they will be holding the show again for the cemetery. The show is in May this year and tickets will be going on sale soon.
Somerset Hills Memorial Park is the closest veteran’s cemetery to Sussex County currently, which is about an hour to an hour and a half drive. It is difficult for many of our aging veterans to visit their comrades or for their elderly loved ones to make such a long trip. One of the benefits of having a veteran’s cemetery so close to home would be for the loved ones of the veterans being able to visit anytime they want. The location of the cemetery is going to be in Sparta, right next to Sussex County Technical School. The location is very central for all residents of Sussex County being at most thirty minutes commute. It is also located not far from route 15 and is off of route 94, which are two of the most used roads in Sussex County so it is in a very convenient location.
It is about time that Sussex County is able to dedicate land to their veterans. Praise goes to Wallkill Valley Chapter 1002 in Vernon, New Jersey and their president John Harrigan for their hard work and dedication to getting this project to become a reality.