Strong Old Newark

by Harry T. Roman


In lots of ways, I'm still that wide-eyed, 12 year-old crew cut kid who marveled at downtown Newark. The big buildings, bright lights, and store displays. Ultra-wide Broad Street is still majestic for me to walk across; and upon alighting onto the grass at Military Park, I imagine what it must have been like long ago….. for colonial troops field marching and practicing their soon-to-be executed military maneuvers against a colossal threat from across the sea.

Usually, it was only a 15-minute, number 29-bus ride, or maybe a speedy 7-minute City Subway glide downtown during summer break, where I was treated to a cornucopia of department stores. There my young mind could feast at will. Always for dessert, a stop at The Newark Museum, to visit the science exhibits. In front of The Newark Library, I could grab the number 29 or 60 bus home. Safe it was back then for any 12 year-old to do.

Now from my PSE&G office window, I can see a portion of the Prudential building, ringed with concrete barriers and heavily armed police. Suddenly my old hometown is different. Someplace a world away, information found in a terrorist laptop computer has reached out to infringe on my nostalgia. Another threat from across the sea looms again.

Looking in the other direction I can see the beautiful new Performing Arts Center, thinking of the many shows my wife and I enjoyed there, and will enjoy this coming year. I see the hope of this renaissance city being threatened by people who neither know us nor seem willing to try.

Almost 3 years ago, I watched the Twin Towers come down……live…..yearning as many did, for the quick, shrill, whooshing sound of American jets exacting stunning retribution. I cried and swore then, but tears no longer come. It is resolve now.

We are a nation and city at war, and must remain vigilant while the threat of terror remains. We must remember that, as our parents and grandparents did during WWII.

My father and his brothers fought similar enemies. So did my mother's brothers. Anzio, Normandy, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Saipan, the Burma Trail-our families gave a full measure, as did many, many others. Dad came home to Newark, badly wounded. But, the kamikaze fly no more; and the sound of jack boots, and visions of stiff-armed salutes are gone. Not on their watch! They stared down the beast, defiantly spitting in its malevolent eye. Such were the many brave sons of Newark past.

Now it's our turn to vanquish this recent brand of terrorism to the trash bin of history, to exile them there forever to seethe in consuming blind hate, along with the other crushed evil of this past century.

My old Newark memories are packed carefully, and will withstand the bumps in the road should they come. Our hometown is strong. It will endure. Other wide-eyed 12 year-olds must have a chance to believe in the innocent magic I did.

Every Newark school kid should study the history of this great city, learning how it was the lighthouse for New Jersey, and crossroad of the American Revolution. Let them know the tough fiber of this immigrant beehive--a city that forged and annealed many New Jersey leaders.

We should have a parade, a grand old-fashioned one, right down Broad Street, proud soldiers marching, cymbals crashing, flags waving---right in front of Prudential's gleaming white structure…… putting the freedom-haters on notice:

You shall not destroy our memories.
You shall not hurt Newark……our mother city.
We shall be here long after you're gone!


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