Belleville Historical Society completes grave restoration on DeJessa’s anniversary — unknowingly

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March 29 was Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day. For several years, one of the projects of the Belleville Historical Society has been to locate and restore, if needed, the grave markers of local young men killed in action from all wars. The society has cleaned more than 40 stones over the last few years, including those of all the Belleville young men and three young men from Nutley who were lost in Vietnam.

March 26, however, is a date the Belleville Historical Society will always remember. The society had, for some time, planned to restore the stone of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph DeJessa, of Lyndhurst, killed in Vietnam aged 19. The bridge across the Passaic River connecting Lyndhurst and Nutley is named in his honor.

“As time and circumstances would have it, we found ourselves at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Lyndhurst where DeJessa is buried on March 26,” BHS President Michael Perrone said. “Covered with more than half a century of dirt and moss, the writing on the stone was nearly impossible to read. Once cleaned, we were stunned and greatly moved once we realized that we had just restored the gravestone on the anniversary of Pfc. Joseph DeJessa’s death — March 26, 1967.”

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