Union City dedicates COVID-19 Victims Memorial

The heart-shaped monument stands in Ellsworth Park

Union City has officially dedicated its COVID-19 Victims Memorial in Ellsworth Park. The city held a ceremony in the park at 23rd Street and Palisade Avenue to commemorate the dedication of the monument on Friday March, 25.

The memorial was dedicated to victims of the virus nearly two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Members of the community and officials came out in a remembrance whose solemnity was indicative of the lasting impact of the pandemic.

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The ceremony was put together by Commissioner of Public Affairs Lucio Fernandez, who spoke led the ceremony. Chief of Police Nichelle Luster led the pledge of allegiance, with Union City Police Department acting as color guard, and students from Sarah Gilmore Academy sang the national anthem.

Mayor Brian Stack said it was important to remember those who passed away from COVID-19 in Union City.

“On behalf of the commissioners and myself, we felt it was important to have some type of monument in the city for all those, all of our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have passed away and suffered from COVID,” Stack said. “We felt it important that we have something right here in our community, that we remember all Union City residents who have passed away. That’s why we set this up in Ellsworth Park.”

In the heart of the city

The memorial is in Ellsworth Park, where the city recently dedicated its monument to Martin Luther King Jr. during Black History Month. The stone memorial features a red metallic heart with stone wings atop a stone pedestal, surrounded by fenced flowers and landscaping.

The Union City Police Department served as color guard, presenting the flags at the solemn ceremony.

“It’s a nice setting in the Spring and the Summer, when the flowers are in bloom and there can be some peace and serenity here,” Stack said. Friends and family members can come here and remember those who passed.

Stack also thanked Fernandez, as well as Lilliana Barrera form Senior Citizens’ Public Affairs, and Union City Parks Department under Alicia Morejon. Fernandez also thanked Marco Design, D’Anna Electric, Adamo Brothers, Construction Co., Mason Landscaping, as well as Barrera, Morejon, and Stack among others.

“Even though this is a difficult night for everyone, this is a blessing to be able to be here to honor and remember all the people that we lost from COVID-19,” said Commissioner Wendy Grullon, who first addressed the crowd in English and then in Spanish.. “This is an opportunity to pray for them and the families and to embrace the memory they have left behind in our community.”

Commissioner Celin Valdivia also addressed the crowd in both languages: “This was probably one of the darkest months in United States history. I remember watching TV every night, hospitals being filled with people from all over the country. Here in Union City, we had neighbors and family members we knew that were there. This memorial will be something we can pray. Thank God this is almost over.”

Mayor Brian Stack spoke about the importance of remembering those lost to COVID-19.

Gone, but never forgotten

Shiloh Gonzalez, an eighth grade at Sarah Gilmore Academy, then read the poem “Look for the Blossom” by Jessica Bryant. Then a moment of silence was held for those who perished from COVID-19. Afterwards, those in attendance laid carnations provided by the city at the memorial.

According to Fernandez, residents can place flowers at the monument at any time. He said that soon, people will be able to further memorialize those who have died at the location.

“We’re going to be placing a basket full of smooth stones with paint markers so that you can write the names of the loved ones who have perished,” Fernandez said. “That will be coming in the next couple of weeks.”

The basket of smooth stones will be placed next to the memorial. Residents can customize them and place them within the fenced landscaping around the monument.

“Please spread the word that the monument is here so people can come and pay respect to their fallen family members,” Fernandez said.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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