by Martin L. Cox
Image: Newark Story

Come, citizens of Newark, proud,
        Of low or high degrees,
Unite in story, song and ode,
        Float banners on the breeze,
Awake the harp and raise the voice
        To laud our city’s praise,
For Newark Day is here to stay
        Among our festal days.

Our fathers’ spirits shall behold
        Their work was not in vain;
What sires once planned the sons have done
        Upon Passaic’s plain.
By earnest toil, upon our soil,
        As passing years have flown,
The walls of temple, mart and home
        Have risen stone on stone.

Europa sent her stalwart sons
        From English moor and town,
From German vineyard, Flemish farm,
        Or Scottish heather brown,
From Polish plain and Irish bog
        And sunny Roman land,
To build anew their hearths and homes
        Along Passaic’s strand.

And these with those New England men
        Who first sought here a home,
Have labored side by side in peace;
        For under heaven’s dome
No dearer place for them, they felt,
        Could anywhere be found,
And love of country, love of home,
        They learned in tilling ground.

Soon Industry and Thrift came here
        To crown our fathers’ toil;
Their wants were few, but well supplied
        From Jersey’s fertile soil.
Their gratitude to God they gave
        In formal psalm and prayer,
Believing He alone could bless
        Their labor and their care.

What mean these massive walls of brick
        That look like castles old?
No place of idol state are they,
        No keep for hoarding gold;
But busy factories of trade,
        Where lathe and loom and wheel
Are busy servants, helping man
        Promote the common weal.

What wonder if our fathers erred
        In many things they did?
How could they know our present needs
        Which Time from them had hid?
For them Passaic’s lordly flow
        Brought blessings from the hills,
And on his heaving bosom came
        No stain from town or mills.

O citizens, awake and claim
        That river for your own,
Its stream and banks a legacy
        Of fabled worth has grown.
Your buildings for the public use,
        And every park and square,
These are the jewels you must prize
        And make your daily care.

Then, long live Newark, proud and great,
        The home of industry,
Create new beauties for her own
        In stone and spreading tree.
Let all her people join the song
        In one triumphant strain,
And praise the town with heart and voice
        In loving, glad acclaim.

In 1910 the Board of Education proclaimed the first “Newark Day” and in 1911, with money contributed by Newark pupils, the Schoolmen’s Club began to place a series of bronze tablets honoring figures and features of the city’s distant or recent past. Plaques were dedicated on Newark Day, the first Monday of November, over the course of the next eighteen years.

Martin L. Cox, principal of Thirteenth Avenue School, composed these verses for his students’ Newark Day observance in 1916, the city’s two hundred fiftieth anniversary year. The Newark Star printed the poem on October 26, “so as to bring it before the other school children of Newark, in order to instill civic pride in their hearts.”

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