RAHWAY – Later this month, one of the first monuments in New Jersey to honor soldiers killed in the Iraq conflict will be installed at the train station plaza in Rahway. A dedication ceremony is planned for Saturday, Sept. 12.
The memorial is the brainchild of Jim McKeon, founder of the Rahway Art Hive Studio and Co-Op Gallery. The vision for The Broken Hearts Memorial came to McKeon one day during a conversation about iconic tattoo symbols with a friend who had a son serving in Iraq.
What started out as a small idea to paint a cracked heart on a canvas grew into the 36-foot free-standing walls that will make up the Broken Hearts Memorial. The wall will be made up of 19 interlocking panels.
The background of each panel is a single, life-size silhouette of a soldier on duty. On top of each silhouette, 128 hearts will be painted until the current number of US soldiers killed is reached: 4,317 as of July 6. The shape of the wall is open hexagons, vulnerable when standing alone, but strong when placed back to back. The design itself, symbolizes how our soldiers protect each other everyday in combat, sometimes, giving their lives. The wall is constructed so that it can be a permanent, traveling, or temporary installation.
McKeon said that he is honored and grateful for the opportunity to be able to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and especially their surviving families.
When the memorial is installed at The Rahway Train Station Plaza, the background silhouettes will already be painted. During the installation phase, the individual hearts be painted by the artist and anyone who would like to join in and help.
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