The War Years, St. Joan of Arc Parish
Adapted from "Saint Joan of Arc Parish Diamond Anniversary 1920-1995"
Copyright (c) 1995, St. Joan of Arc Parish
|American Legion Post 71|
2992 Mt. Ephraim Avenue, Built in 1918
During the early forties, at the height of World War II, a War Bond Drive was held in the school. At the conclusion of the drive, American Legion Post 71 awarded a medal to the student that sold the most bonds. That student's sales of War Bonds alone amounted to $440.00. Students were encouraged to help the war effort by buying twenty five cent saving stamps. The stamps were pasted in books and saved until filled. The book was then redeemed for a War Bond.
Mock air raids were held during school hours as practice in case of attacks, and in the evenings, air raid wardens met in the basement and proceeded from there to patrol the streets of Fairview with helmets and flashlights.
Activity at the shipyard really began to boom during the World War II years, when as many as forty thousand were employed in the local industry. New York Ship played a key role in supplying the Armed Forces with battleships, cruisers and aircraft carriers.
The years of the Second World War took their toll on the families of Fairview. Not only were the families here left alone while the men in their lives went to war, unfortunately, some did not return since they lost their lives in battle overseas. A monument still stands in Yorkship Square in memory of those fallen heroes.
World War II Monument in Yorkship Square
One such hero who did not return was Francis X. McGraw of 3110 Merrimac Road. For his bravery he was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor which is the highest military award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States of America. The dead of the person must be proved by incontestable eyewitnesses and it must involve risk of life. Private First Class (PFC) McGraw was awarded that honor by General Order 92 on October 25, 1945. The award was accepted by his proud parents, John and Mary McGraw.
His name stands in history for this honor. A U.S. Army Transport Ship was named for him on January 16, 1948. A memorial in his name was dedicated in Kaserne, Munich, Germany on February 11, 1948. A Camden elementary school was officially dedicated in his memory on September 1, 1953. It is the Francis X. McGraw School located at Fremont and Dudley streets. And lastly a memorial park in his honor, located in Fairview at New Jersey and Merrimac Roads was dedicated on May 28, 1979 (with a memorial stone added in 1982).
Father McCorristin's initial goal had been to create a church separate from the school building. With that in mind, he acquired thirteen lots along Alabama Road. Although he, as pastor, was able to pay off our parish debt and save one hundred fifty thousand dollars toward that goal, his dream was not realized. He was transferred on April 15, 1950 to serve as pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Atlantic City, NJ.