Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
July 12, 2008
This year we made it out to the anniversary event at the otherwise lonely Emilio Carranza Crash Site Memorial on Saturday afternoon, July 12, 2008. Ever since the “Lindbergh of Mexico” went down in Tabernacle, NJ in 1928, Mount Holly American Legion Post 11 has conducted an annual ceremony to honor and remember him. It’s also an opportunity to recount the role of the Legion Post in cordoning off the crash site and escorting the aviator’s body out of the Pine Barrens.
Here’s our short video of the opening moments of the ceremony, with the entrance of the color guard, dignitaries from the Mexican consulate and a surprising number of Carranza relatives:
The program included the laying of a dozen or more wreaths at the monument, a three-time flyover by a lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol, a “reenactment,” a firing squad, salute and taps — along with several speakers. A simultaneous ceremony was taking place in Mexico City at Carranza’s grave site.
Is Carranza too famous now in the US to be considered an obscure and neglected hero, the neat little box we’ve always kept him in? We recall one of the speakers today saying something like: “Our Carranza is now everyone’s Carranza,” as she introduced a pair of filmmakers finishing up the SECOND documentary made about the pilot and his crash…
So has Carranza gone mainstream? We’d argue that he still hasn’t cleared the trees on that one… Three days earlier at Lakehurst Naval Base (an hour or so north of Tabernacle), we’d asked a pair of Hindenburg crash site guides (and flight history experts) if they knew about Carranza’s crash site and the upcoming 80th gala. Both gentlemen wracked their brains, but couldn’t recall ever hearing of the guy.
This isn’t a bad thing, because it means the story of Carranza has the potential to find new groups and new generations to inspire. Not like overexposed, worn out Mr. Lindbergh (The “Carranza of the US,” as some no doubt refer to him).
And we anticipate the annual service will always hold new surprises, even if the 80th was a special milestone. This year, for example, at the base of the monument was a model plane resembling the Mexico-Excelsior, along with a strut-like metal item. Turns out it is a piece of the actual plane grabbed from the crash site, but now relinquished to the respectful stewardship of American Legion Post 11. But it lay right there, as it probably did 80 years ago.
Emilio Carranza Crash Monument
- Carranza Rd, Tabernacle, NJ
- Take Hwy 70 to Red Lion Circle (US Hwy 206) and turn south on US Hwy 206. After one mile turn left onto Carranza Rd. Drive for about nine miles, into Wharton State Forest and past the teen boot camp. The Memorial will be visible on the right, in a clearing in the trees.
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- Major Fun