The memorial makers engraved the names of the 50 Prudential employees who died in the war alongside the image of the goddess.
In 1920, Memorial Day took place on May 30, on a Sunday. Prudential held its memorial unveiling ceremony two days before, on May 28.
The Weekly Underwriter, an insurance trade journal of the time, published an article about the ceremony and extracts from a letter Forrest Dryden, Prudential’s president, put the pamphlet issued in connection with the ceremony.
Here are portions of those extracts:
Memorial Day, Nineteen Twenty
Out of sorrows and holy sentiments came Memorial Day. Tenderly we lift the curtain and bow in silent reverence to those who died, that we might carry on and keep for our children and our children’s children a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Only through the lapse of thoughtful years can we fully comprehend the real meaning of it all.
Since the immortal fifty-six patriots signed the Declaration of Independence the valor of American has been tested in fifty-nine independent wars, campaigns and expeditions. To list these details would require pages. War Department records of the early-day struggles are admittedly incomplete and untrustworthy. But we can refer briefly to the main conflicts…
Here are 503,559 officially recorded deaths of Americans who threw aside anticipated futures replete with honors and profits, full of promises and rewards of ambition — men who abandoned all cherished hopes and sealed with their blood their last testament to the service of mankind.
And what of ourselves? Are we living heroic lives? Is not our supreme lesson that we, of this day, hold in fee the great trust placed with us by those whose bodies lie upon the altar of their country? Is it not our shame if we fail to carry out the faith they began and permit this nation to drift from its high ideals to the usurpation of power by men whose conception of control would be personal aggrandizement and the debasement of all that is clean and upright?
Let us meet the problems of today with courage and fortitude equal to that shown by the recorded half-million of dead patriots. Let us serve and sacrifice for the welfare of a country that is now so much in need of good men, tall men, great men. We have been left the legacy of splendid accomplishment. Let us hold it sacred. They died for us. Let us live that these deaths shall not have been in vain.
Above all, let us say with the American of Americans, Theodore Roosevelt: “If when I die, the ones who knew me best believe that I was a thoughtful, helpful husband, a loving, wise and painstaking father, a generous, kindly neighbor, and a courageous patriot and citizen, that will be a far greater honor and will prove my life to have been more successful than that I have ever known as president of the United States.”
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